12/04/2007 12:00AM

Eight in-form fillies face off in scramble

EmailOZONE PARK, N.Y. - Races don't come much more competitive than Thursday's Xtra Heat, a $75,000 overnight stakes at six furlongs. Seven of the eight juvenile fillies come off victories, four of them on two-race winning streaks. Five of the eight are stakes winners.

Dill or No Dill is the only one who didn't win last out, but she had the unenviable task of setting the early pace in the Frizette while hounded by Indian Blessing.

"We threw her to the wolves in that mile race," said Gary Contessa, who took over the training of Dill or No Dill following a wire-to-wire win against males in the Clever Trevor Stakes at Remington Park on Labor Day.

"She is one rapid filly, and I put a rapid rider on her too," said Contessa, referring to jockey Chuck Lopez. "If they want to chase her, bring it on."

Throbbin' Heart is stepping up off a front-end maiden win in the mud at Monmouth Park, and figures to be in close contention from her outside post. The only fillies to beat her in three starts are Indian Blessing and Elusive Lady, who subsequently won the Tempted Stakes.

Vain Vixen, Atash, and Becalm emerge from on-the-pace wins as well, and should a multi-horse battle for the lead occur, the advantage could shift to any among the threesome of Canadian Ballet, D J Lightning, and Porte Bonheur.

Porte Bonheur weakened after forcing the pace in her Saratoga debut, but came back to win twice at Belmont's fall meet, including the Open Mind Stakes, rallying from next-to-last.

"We tried putting her close to the pace, but she's better when you take her back and let her run at them," said her trainer, David Duggan. "I love where we're drawn [post 6], and hopefully we can sit three or four lengths off the pace. This is the next step, and we'll see what we've got."

D J Lightning, 2 for 2, is "a straightforward little filly in a plain brown wrapper," according to trainer Rick Violette, who ran her for a $100,000 claiming price first time out at Saratoga. "I would have fallen over if someone had taken her," he said.

Following her debut win, D J Lightning caught a sloppy track in the Prom Stakes at the Meadowlands, and overcame a five-wide trip to win going away.

"That was a pretty cool race," said Violette. "She's very professional. She doesn't have to be on the lead. If she's in a pocket on the inside, that's fine, too."