07/18/2009 12:00AM

Delaware Oaks the third go-round for two fillies

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Tom Keyser
Payton d'Oro (right) wins the Black-Eyed Susan in her first meeting with Bon Jovi Girl.

Bon Jovi Girl beat Payton d'Oro by eight lengths when they met three weeks ago in the Susan's Girl Stakes at Delaware Park. Trainer Larry Jones is optimistic the outcome will be different when the 3-year-old fillies clash again Saturday, hopefully on a fast track.

Jones, who won last year's Delaware Oaks with Proud Spell, will try to make it two in a row in the 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-old fillies when he sends out Payton d'Oro to meet Bon Jovi Girl for the third time this season.

The Grade 2, $250,000 Oaks is the feature among four stakes on a 10-race card that also includes the Grade 3, $200,000 Robert Dick Memorial Handicap on the turf.

Payton d'Oro finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of Bon Jovi Girl when she won the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico two months ago. But Bon Jovi Girl turned the tables over a sloppy surface on June 20, snapping Payton d'Oro's four-race winning streak.

Jones blames the wet track for Payton d'Oro's subpar performance.

"I do not think she really cared for the slop the last time out," Jones said. "So we are hoping that getting back on the fast track will be what we need to make our race."

Bon Jovi Girl races well at Delaware no matter what track condition she catches. Trained and co-owned by Tim Ritchey, who won the 2007 Delaware Oaks with Moon Catcher, Bon Jovi Girl is 4 for 6 locally. That includes victories in three stakes by a combined margin of 23 3/4 lengths, while racing twice over wet surfaces and once on a fast strip.

The pace in the Oaks figures to be swift, thanks to the presence of stretch-out sprinter Miss Unitednations and Malibu Prayer, who set sizzling fractions of 44.66 seconds and 1:08.86 before fading to second behind superstar filly Rachel Alexandra in the Grade 1 Mother Goose at 1 1/8 miles.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said Malibu Prayer deserves a shot in this spot after dominating foes in her two previous starts by more than 20 lengths.

"She acts like she has some quality," Pletcher said. "I think she is still maturing, especially mentally."

The 2-1 favorite on the track's morning line is Livin Lovin, a Grade 3 winner last season. Trainer Steve Klesaris has cross-entered Livin Lovin in Sunday's $1 million Delaware Handicap. She was a troubled fourth in her only start this year.