02/05/2004 12:00AM

Entrymate is Kya Jo's main rival


PORTLAND, Ore. - An evenly matched field of eight, including a stable coupling, will go six furlongs in Saturday's $10,000 Ms. Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Many fans will find the Jonathan Nance-trained entry of Kya Jo and Reignsofire attractive, if only because it offers two chances in the wide-open field. Kya Jo outfinished her stablemate by a half-length in winning the OTBA Stallion Stakes here on Jan. 3, but that was only Reignsofire's second start, and Nance says she has room for improvement.

"Reignsofire could be the better sprinter," Nance said. "She has more natural speed. My biggest hopes for Kya Jo are for when she goes long, but she is coming up to this race nicely and I think she'll run well."

Belle Fourche and Quiz the Maid are the other stakes winners in the field. Belle Fourche, the probable pacesetter, led throughout to win the Jane Driggers Debutante here on Dec. 13, while Quiz the Maid came from far back to win the Lassie Stakes in November. Both have run disappointing races since their stakes wins, but both have drilled sharply in recent weeks and seem capable of rebounding.

Another threat is Wampum Wager, who has finished first or second in each of her last four starts. Wampum Wager, a daughter of Stately Wager, comes off a second-place finish to Ms Lady Palace in a six-furlong allowance on Jan. 26, when she outfinished Ms. Stakes contestants Belle Fourche and Soon Be Gone. With Ms Lady Palace skipping Saturday's stakes, Wampum Wager may have her best chance yet to win an added-money event.