08/16/2001 11:00PM

Four stakes winners in New Castle


A competitive field of filly and mare grass runners has been assembled for Sunday's $100,000 New Castle Handicap at Delaware Park.

Among the 12 entered are stakes winners Amourette, Melody Queen, Senza Paura, and Step With Style.

Step With Style's consistent form could make her the slight choice in the 1 1/8-mile New Castle. Trained by one of the most successful grass trainers in this country, Christophe Clement, Step With Style has won three races and has two seconds from five starts this year. In July, Step With Style won the Rockingham Breeders' Cup Handicap and then finished a narrow second a month later in the Spicy Living, also run at the New Hampshire track.

Mike McCarthy, in a battle with apprentice Jeremy Rose for leading rider at the meet, rides Saratoga shipper Step With Style from post 5.

Amourette wheels back on only six days' rest after finishing a well-beaten sixth in the Grade 3 Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup Handicap at Saratoga last weekend. The New Castle will be the 5-year-old Amourette's fourth start since July 1.

Before her Saratoga flop, the mare won three in a row, including Delaware's Robert G. Dick Memorial at 1 3/8 miles. Robert Colton will ride Amourette from post 1.

Batique, who earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 100 by winning the Grade 3 Matchmaker at Monmouth in June while setting the pace, should keep the pace honest. The mare bombed in her next start when she chased the pace and finished eighth in the Grade 3 All Along at Colonial Downs.

Batique, who will be ridden by Rick Wilson, drew post 10, which could be a little dicey for a horse with speed.

Melody Queen usually shows up ready to run for trainer Michael Dickinson. The classy 5-year-old Melody Queen, a winner of more than $300,000, finished fourth behind a solid bunch of grass fillies in the Grade 2 New York Handicap at Belmont Park in her last start on July 14.

Queue, a deep closer who likes a course with moisture in it, is coming off a strong effort in an allowance race at Saratoga, where she finished second to Starine, a recent European import. Queue was gaining on Starine at the finish of the 1 1/8-mile race and was beaten less than a length.

Senza Paura is 2 for 2 over Delaware's turf and won her first race back after a seven-month layoff in easy fashion at Colonial last month.