06/17/2003 11:00PM

Danuta makes U.S. return

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ELMONT, N.Y. - In a departure from previous years, Godolphin Racing has not rushed its top 3-year-old prospects into North American Grade 1 races.

Inamorato, Godolphin's top 3-year-old colt, was held out of the Kentucky Derby and made his North American debut Belmont Stakes Day. Danuta, Godolphin's top 3-year-old filly, was held out of the Kentucky Oaks and is slated to make her return to North American racing Friday at Belmont Park in a third-level allowance race at one mile.

It will be Danuta's first start since she won the UAE Oaks April 3 at Nad Al Sheba in Dubai. Danuta is 3 for 4 over all with those three wins coming in succession beginning with her maiden victory here last Sept. 15.

"We thought we'd just bring her back and start her off in a softer spot and see how she progressed," said trainer Tom Albertrani, who earned his first winner of the meet Wednesday with Ashraaf, who finished 7 3/4 lengths behind Danuta in the Moonshell Mile at Nad Al Sheba in February. "She's done well since she's been here.''

In winning her two starts this year in Dubai, Danuta did so in front-running fashion. Friday, she figures to face early pressure from Bronze Autumn.

Another who figures to be close to the pace is Cherokee Lite, who has reeled off three straight victories since returning to New York this spring. In her last start May 23, Cherokee Life rolled to a 1 1/2-length victory at this distance in the slop, conditions that could be prevalent Saturday.

Cherokee Lite finished fourth behind Danuta in the aforementioned maiden race last September, but she was good enough to finish in front of Yell in a subsequent maiden race in which Cherokee Lite was disqualified for interference. Yell has since become a graded stakes winner.

Jockey Javier Castellano takes over for Norberto Arroyo Jr., who suffered a broken bone in his neck last Sunday.

Parisian Deputy, a daughter of French Deputy trained by Stanley Hough, is another to consider. She is coming off a two-length victory in a second-level allowance race here May 14 and won her maiden over a muddy Belmont track last September beating House Party, a multiple stakes winner at 3.

Lady Liberty appears to be the stronger half of trainer Shug McGaughey's entry. She is coming off an off-the-turf second-level allowance win May 30. Her entrymate, Arabis, owns a win over Belmont's main track.

Kitty Knight drops back into allowance company after finishing last in the Grade 1 Acorn.