10/18/2005 11:00PM

Delta Princess stands out


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - All signs point to Delta Princess in the Grade 3, $150,000 Violet Stakes Friday night at The Meadowlands Racetrack.

A 6-year-old mare trained by Bill Mott, Delta Princess will be a deservedly strong favorite in the 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

She was entered in the Grade 3 Athenia Handicap on Oct. 15 at Belmont Park but scratched when it came off the turf. Fortunate Damsel, Natalie Beach, and Sharp Needle also landed here following the surface switch in the Athenia.

The Violet looks like an ideal fall-back spot for Delta Princess. She has the class, as evidenced by a pair of Grade 3 victories at Churchill Downs this year in the Mint Julep and the Locust Grove handicaps.

Her record at the distance on turf is a solid 10 for 18.

is consistent, showing Beyer Speed Figures that have not dipped below 91 over the past two years. Interestingly, the last time her Beyer missed the mark was an 89 when she ran fourth in the 2003 Violet.

While Delta Princess looks solid, the great equalizer in any race can be luck - and trainer John J. Tammaro III hopes a shift in fortune tilts the outcome in favor of .

The New Jersey-bred mare has enjoyed a solid season with the high point the victory in the Grade 3 Eatontown Handicap at Monmouth Park.

It was her lone win in seven starts this year, in a campaign marred by several near misses.

"With a little better racing luck, we thought she could have won a couple of more this year, but that's turf racing," Tammaro said.

This will be Smart N Classy's second straight appearance in the Violet. She finished last at long odds last year, but has been highly competitive in all eight starts since then.

"She's an improved horse and we're looking for another good performance," Tammaro said.

The Violet drew a full field of 14 with three also entered as main-track-only runners.

Also on the Friday card is the $50,000 Bergen County Stakes for 3-year-olds at five furlongs, in which multiple stakes-winner Joey P. makes his turf debut.

Last time out, Joey P. beat older New Jersey-bred rivals in the Friendly Lover Handicap at Monmouth Park.