06/30/2004 11:00PM

Fillies from all corners of the world


The International Oaks might be a more appropriate name for Saturday's $750,000 American Oaks, in which five foreign invaders from three different continents will join three ex-foreigners and six Americans fillies in a 1 1/4-mile clash on the Hollywood Park turf course.

The most intriguing of the five invaders is Dance in the Mood. A Japanese-bred daughter of Sunday Silence, she is trained by Kazuo Fujisawa, the man who engineered Taiki Shuttle's victory in the Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville in 1998.

Fujisawa is annually Japan's leading trainer, and it was at his urging over the initial reticence of owner Teruya Yoshida that Dance in the Mood has been sent to Hollywood. A full sister to Japanese Oaks winner Dance Partner, a filly who finished a nose behind subsequent Grade 1 Ramona Handicap winner Matiara in Deauville's 1 1/4-mile Group 3 Prix de la Nonette, Dance in the Mood was fourth in the Japanese Oaks on May 23 when she clearly found 12 furlongs too long a trip.

Ten furlongs and a return to firm ground, over which she won the one-mile Japanese 1000 Guineas, should suit her. So, too, should the cooler weather at Hollywood on Saturday, for Dance in the Mood tends to sweat. In Japan, horses are brought into the paddock already saddled more than half an hour before post time, and Japanese Oaks Day at Tokyo was stiflingly muggy. If she gets through the preliminaries in good order she could be the value play with regular rider Yutaka Take aboard.

Steel Princess may be forgiven her 10th-place finish last time in the French Oaks, when her three-race unbeaten streak went down the drain. Prior to that day, when she started from a very wide post, she had beaten subsequent Group 3 winner Love and Bubbles in the Group 3 Prix Cleopatre. Unfortunately for her canny English trainer Richard Gibson, Steel Princess has drawn wide again on Saturday and Tyler Baze will have to work out a trip from post 13.

Last year, Dermot Weld, arguably the best trainer in the world at shipping horses across the seven seas to win big races, brought Dimitrova from Ireland to win the American Oaks. This time he presents us with Misty Heights, a Fasliyev filly who gets her stamina from her broodmare sire, Shirley Heights.

The two can be compared, but only to a certain degree. Dimitrova had finished just three-quarters of a length third behind Yesterday and Six Perfections in the Irish 1000 Guineas, while Misty Heights was, eighth 12 1/2 lengths behind the undefeated Attraction in her Irish 1000. Misty Heights did beat older fillies and mares last time when stepping up in distance to win a modest 1 1/8-mile listed race at Gowran Park. The Weld factor may make her an underlay.

French Lady and Boulevardofdreams, second and third in the AJC, or Australian Oaks, invade from New Zealand, but both failed in their latest tries versus lesser. While both might prefer 1 1/2 miles, French Lady could be running late and rates an edge for a possible placing over Eternal Melody, who finished 3 3/4 lengths behind her in the New Zealand Oaks on Jan. 17.