06/28/2007 12:00AM

Fillies challenge boys at Thistledown


Fifteen Ohio-bred 3-year-olds were entered in the nine-furlong $100,000 Cleveland Gold Cup at Thistledown on Saturday. The field, which includes three stable couplings, will be limited to 14 starters.

Two of the leading entrants, Littlebitabling, a half-sister to graded stakes winner Too Much Bling, and Pay the Man are fillies. Female runners have won 2 of the 39 previous runnings of the Gold Cup: Buckys Brat in 1999 and First Lt. Wack in 1976.

Pyrite Personal has won his last two starts, both on the grass at River Downs, by a combined 17 1/4 lengths. The switch back to dirt should not pose a problem for him as he has two wins on the main track. He is trained by Miguel Feliciano and will be ridden by Ricardo Feliciano at 119 pounds.

Pyrite Personal will be coupled with the filly Pay the Man, who won a statebred 1 1/16-mile allowance last time out by 10 lengths. On April 11, she won the six-furlong Angenora Stakes at Thistledown. Pay the Man carries 114 pounds and will be ridden by Andrew Ramgeet.

"You've got to try [the colts] or you'll never know if you can beat them," trainer Feliciano said.

Littlebitabling was second while racing against the boys last time out going 1 1/16 miles at Thistledown on June 10. Prior to that, she was second in the 1 1/16-mile Tomboy Stakes on the River Downs turf.

"Rags to Riches has everybody thinking twice about running against the boys," her trainer, Tim Hamm, said. Littlebitabling will be ridden by Hector Rosario at 114.

Rosario also is named as the rider of Havanna at Night, who has won his last three races, all sprints, against older company. The drop back to straight 3-year-olds will make him a factor for trainer Michael Binning.