01/09/2009 12:00AM

Four Gifts proven at a mile


NEW ORLEANS - By winning the $500,000 Delta Princess, Four Gifts marked herself a prime contender for the series of 3-year-old filly stakes here that culminate with the March 14 Fair Grounds Oaks.

The first step on the road to the Oaks is Saturday's $75,000 Tiffany Lass at one mile.

There are four other fillies in the race, and two of them, Just Jenda and Selva, have shown flashes of brilliance. But they still must prove they can be effective at a mile.

Four Gifts has already won at the distance and is stretching out well, to the relief of her trainer, Steve Asmussen.

"She's not a very big filly, and she's out of a full sister to Cashier's Dream, who raced for me," said Asmussen. "Cashier's Dream won stakes, but was unable to stretch out, and we were hoping that Four Gifts would be able to stretch."

In her first attempt around two turns, Four Gifts ran her best race, winning the one-mile, Grade 3 Delta Princess at Delta Downs on Dec. 5. She rated off the pace before taking over in the stretch and winning by 2 1/4 lengths.

"It was an ambitious spot for her, but she ran great, and came out the race great," said Asmussen. "Now we want to see how she'll run at the Fair Grounds, heading her in the direction of the Oaks."

Just Jenda took a step back in the Delta Princess. She entered the race off a nine-length victory in the Brandywine in the slop at Philadelphia Park, but finished fifth, 6 1/2 lengths back.

"She never really acted like she got a hold of the track at Delta," said trainer Larry Jones. "We're not changing anything, we're just running her on a bigger track."

Selva is 3 for 3, including two victories in stakes. The question isn't whether she's good, but whether she will stretch out.

"She's a filly bred for speed and we want to find out if she can go two turns," said trainer David Carroll. "I'd feel more confident if it was a one-turn mile, but this race will tell us what direction to go in."