09/02/2006 12:00AM

Four flashy winners face off


DEL MAR, Calif. - The build-up to Monday's $250,000 Del Mar Debutante for 2-year-old fillies began in earnest when the Del Mar meeting started in July. Impressive performances by 2-year-old fillies dominated the early weeks of the season.

Picking among those fillies will not be easy. beat maidens by 4 1/2 lengths on July 23 in her second start, followed a week later by She's Included's win in a six-furlong maiden race by 3 3/4 lengths.

On Aug. 5, remained unbeaten after two starts with a highly impressive victory in the Sorrento Stakes. A day later, Jump on In glided through the stretch to win a maiden race over 5 1/2 furlongs by 5 1/4 lengths.

Those four fillies are the top contenders in the Grade 1 Debutante over seven furlongs. Each has a solid chance to win the 2-year-old filly division's first major race of the year in California.

The Debutante has drawn a field of nine, including Mistical Plan, a maiden winner at Santa Rosa in July who was purchased privately by Paul Reddam and turned over to trainer Doug O'Neill; Pinata, the winner of the Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park in July; and Outofthepast, the runner-up in the Sorrento Stakes.

Pinata was a late addition to the field. Trainer Peter Miller had said that she was slow to recover from the Landaluce Stakes, leaving her status for the Debutante questionable.

Confidence abounds among the trainers with leading contenders, even if their starters face fillies that seem to be equally as talented.

Untouched Talent, who began her career with a victory in the Juan Gonzales Stakes at the Alameda County Fair at Pleasanton in July, is expected to be favored. She won the Sorrento Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs by a deceptively small margin because jockey Victor Espinoza did not urge her through the final furlong. Untouched Talent broke from the rail in the Sorrento, but has drawn post 7 in the Debutante.

"Her consistency and her ability give her a big edge on the rest," said her trainer, Jeff Bonde. "She has a great mentality and didn't let the 1-hole bother her. She has a good turn of foot when you ask her."

Bonde also starts Fillie by the Sea, who was second to Jump on In.

Trained by John Sadler, Jump on In scored perhaps the flashiest maiden win of the meeting. She won without being urged, racing on the lead throughout.

"I think running seven-eighths is tactical," Sadler said of the Debutante. "As much speed as she showed, she'll get a good trip.

"I think she is" good enough, Sadler said. "I'd be more worried if I had a horse of lesser talent. I think she's very good."

If the pace is hot, She's Included could be well-placed. Trained by Christopher Paasch, she beat maidens on July 30, rallying from fourth. She's Included drew post 8 in the Debutante, which should aid her stalking style.

"I hope she fits in, especially the last quarter-mile," Paasch said. "Her time was not as good, but I think she was as impressive as the others. She still has to prove herself, but she's getting better and better every week."

Point Ashley can provide trainer Bob Baffert with a highlight to an otherwise quiet meeting. He has one stakes win at the meeting, the 75th of his career at Del Mar and an all-time record for a trainer at this track.

Point Ashley, who is by Point Given, has worked quickly in recent weeks, including six furlongs in 1:09.80 from the gate on Aug. 24.

"I think I'm in a good spot," Baffert said. "She's training well. She's got a lot of quickness for a Point Given."

Baffert has won this race five times. He said the Debutante can be key to a 2-year-old filly's development.

"This is when they start separating each other," he said.