05/07/2003 11:00PM

Edge to Florida fillies


A pair of fillies who most recently raced in Florida bring strong credentials into Saturday's $75,000 Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico.

Gal O Gal, whose five turf victories include a Grade 3 stakes, and One and Twenty, a Grade 3 winner in Canada last year, head a full field of 10 3-year-old fillies in the 1 1/16-mile Hilltop. There are four also-eligibles.

Gal O Gal, trained by Vinnie Blengs, spent the late fall and winter in south Florida. While there, she won four grass races in a row, highlighted by the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream Park. She earned a career-best 87 Beyer Speed Figure in that race.

Given five weeks to refreshen following her stakes win, Gal O Gal returned in early April for the Via Borghese at Gulfstream. She was poised to make her usual strong late rally, but encountered traffic in the stretch. When Gal O Gal finally found room, she closed between horses to finish third, beaten one length.

One and Twenty, a New York-based horse trained by Richard Violette, won her first two starts on grass, including the Grade 3 Natalma, a one-mile stakes at Woodbine, with an 88 Beyer. She was off from October until the April 6 Via Borghese, where she raced close to the pace until tiring badly in deep stretch. With that race and two workouts under her belt, she is eligible to move forward in her second start off the layoff.

Bella Tusa, a European import, is the only filly in the field besides Gal O Gal with more than two turf victories. Bella Tusa was 3 for 7 on grass as a 2-year-old, all in sprints in England and France. In her North American debut, Bella Tusa finished last after a wide trip in an allowance at Aqueduct.

Seattle Tac has flourished since she was switched to the turf two starts ago by trainer Graham Motion. A daughter of Seattle Slew, Seattle Tac responded to the surface change with a good second and a win against allowance runners at Keeneland. Her 82 Beyer in her last start indicates she should be competitive with this group.

The most intriguing filly among those who have never tried turf is Demetra's Love. Although her Tomlinson rating for turf is below average, Detmetra's Love is trained by Dale Capuano, who has won with 27 percent of his first-time turf horses the past two years. She has also run well in two starts on off tracks, which often indicates a horse will adapt to grass.