07/12/2006 11:00PM

Gasia the up-and-comer

Jack Coady / Coady Photography
Gasia has won 3 of her last 4 races going into the Delaware Oaks.

Gasia sold for a modest $12,000 as a yearling and spent her 2-year-old season far from racing's spotlight at Prairie Meadows and Ellis Park. But she has more than a puncher's chance in the $500,000 Delaware Oaks.

The Grade 2 Oaks tops three stakes on Saturday's nine-race card at Delaware Park, a prelude to the meet's centerpiece, the $1 million Delaware Handicap on Sunday.

, who has won 3 of her last 4 starts and 5 of 9 overall, is the likely fourth choice in a field of eight 3-year-old fillies for the 1 1/16-mile Oaks behind northern California shipper Hystericalady and a pair of New York-based runners, Last Romance and Adieu.

Although Gasia raced close to the pace when she won the $100,000 Susan's Girl a month ago, she will likely be asked to rate when she breaks from post 7 under jockey Mario Pino.

"This filly is getting to be very versatile," said trainer Larry Jones. "She can really place herself wherever she needs to. We drew the outside, so we can let her drop back and try to save a little ground around the first turn."

Jones is optimistic Gasia still has room to move forward in the Oaks.

"She just keeps getting a little better all the time," Jones said. "It looks like she may be in store for another improvement because she has been doing so well."

Gasia probably will need to run faster than she ever has before to handle , whose 110 Beyer for her most recent win in the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks is by far the best in Saturday's field.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said he chose to bring Hystericalady all the way across the country because most of the stakes for 3-year-old fillies at this time of year in California are on turf.

"We don't want to put her on the turf yet," Hollendorfer said of Hystericalady, who will be ridden by Patrick Valenzuela. "We also want to see how she will handle a little bit deeper track."

, trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., most recently was narrowly beaten by Bushfire and Hello Liberty in the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont.

Adieu, a two-time graded-stakes winner at 2, has been a bit of a disappointment so far as a 3-year-old. She was the beaten favorite in both the Grade 3 La Troiene at Churchill Downs and the Acorn. She must be respected, however, based on trainer Todd Pletcher's 12-for-37 record at the Delaware meet.

In an interesting subplot, Amandatude, who finished 3 1/4 lengths behind Gasia in the Susan's Girl, will be ridden by Jeremy Rose, his first mount for trainer Tim Ritchey since the highly successful team parted ways last winter in Florida.