01/01/2005 1:00AM

Diane's Debut has class edge but lacks recent conditioning


NEW ORLEANS - Seven of the nine 3-year-old fillies entered in Monday's feature at Fair Grounds, a $30,000 optional claimer at a mile, appear to have promising futures on the turf, which should make this a good betting race.

Diane's Debut has a class edge off her third-place finish in the $71,000 Caressing Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 20. The downside is that she has not worked since that race.

Where's Bailey finished up the track in seventh place in the Caressing, but she may have bounced off her lifetime top in the race before, when she was all out to win a $50,000 nonwinners-of-two. An Aljabr filly out of Vertineaux, Where's Bailey is a genuine turf runner who has won 3 of her 5 starts on grass. She was beaten less than five lengths in her other loss, the $50,000 Lady Luck at Louisiana Downs.

Magic Streak, a daughter of the Storm Cat sire Magic Cat, was fourth in the Lady Luck following a neck loss to Where's Bailey in an optional claimer. In her last race Magic Streak headed Foofaraw for place, with Delusion a neck behind in fourth in what could become a key nonwinners-of-one allowance race.

Cape Hope, a Cape Town filly, was one of trainer Dallas Stewart's impressive maiden winners earlier in the meet, coasting through a 1:38.60 mile with plenty in reserve.

Kera's Kitty Cat has yet to run on grass, but trainer Thomas Amoss may have picked up a valuable claim when he grabbed her out of a $50,000 maiden claimer on dirt Nov. 20 at Churchill Downs. After a tune-up at a mile over the Fair Grounds main track in a $50,000 optional claimer, this Catienus filly may be primed to add another notch to granddaddy Storm Cat's growing legend.

The other two fillies in the race, Princess Dee and Kara's Tee, have never raced on grass. They will have an edge if the rain forces the race off the turf.

Catalano on a roll

Wayne Catalano returned to the winners' circle for the seventh time at this Fair Grounds meet Friday, after Kalahari Cat steamrolled her opposition in an impressive four-length victory.

Track announcer John Dooley welcomed the winning connections over the public address system with the dramatic announcement: "It's another winner for the Cat Man!"

Kalahari Cat was purchased by Mark Cornett of Turf Express,Inc.

"He purchased Tamweel last year," Catalano said. "We're looking to develop this one. She looks like she's got the potential to be a good one."

Catalano is firing on all cylinders at the Fair Grounds meet. In 18 starts his horses are 8-4-3. His horses have won in sprints and routes, on turf or dirt, in maiden, claiming and allowance company.

"We've gotten off to a good start," he said. "We've got the right kind of horses, and everything's working out for us. It's fortunate that we're getting the kind of races we fit well in."