03/27/2003 1:00AM

Glory Be Good tops filly-led African Prince


EAST BOSTON, Mass. - What started out as a division dominated by one filly has turned into a wide-open rivalry, which resumes with Massachusetts-bred 3-year-olds of both sexes squaring off Saturday in the $35,000 African Prince Stakes.

Coming into this year, Jill's Layup was the reigning star, with Glory Be Good having emerged late in 2002 to challenge her. After one race between the two fillies this year, Glory Be Good has inched to the front with a victory in the Mystery Jet Stakes for statebred 3-year-old fillies three weeks ago.

Jill's Layup finished fourth in the Mystery Jet, and a pair of first-time starters, Judge Barbara and Princess Attitude, finished second and a third.

It's clear that the 3-year-old fillies have the edge over the males at this time of year, and they might not even notice that colts and geldings also will be in the gate with them on Saturday.

Glory Be Good's win capped months of work by her breeder and trainer, Michelle Nydam. A homebred daughter of Polish Pro owned by Nydam and Ron Pergakis, Glory Be Good nearly died from pneumonia soon after being foaled. Nydam says it was clear right away this filly had talent.

"From day one you could tell this one just looked the part," said Nydam. "They told us we should put her down when she got sick, but we fought hard and she fought hard for 10 months, and to see her make it and do well really makes me happy."

According to Nydam, the biggest problem once she began training Glory Be Good was to keep her calm and to teach her to rate. The lessons appeared learned in the Mystery Jet.

"She's the type of horse that wants to run down horses," said Nydam. "She finally showed that she could rate in her last race. [Jockey] Vernon Bush has really worked with her. I'm glad there's another horse in there with speed."

The other speed horse is Judge Barbara, who in her first start lost to Glory Be Good by a half-length in the Mystery Jet. Leading jockey Joe Hampshire will be back aboard, and trainer George Saccardo will give Judge Barbara Lasix for the first time.

Meanwhile, some of the shine is off Jill's Layup after her fourth-place finish in the Mystery Jet - her first start as a 3-year-old. Foot problems and the harsh winter hampered her training. Jill's Layup, a two-time stakes winner, posted a bullet workout last Saturday.

Princess Attitude ran exceptionally well making her debut in a stakes race. She will also get a first dose of Lasix for this race. She is owned and trained by Adel Salim.

As for one of the boys upsetting the females in this race, only Buttonwood Thunder would appear to have a chance. Buttonwood Thunder, from the hot barn of Bobby Raymond, finished third in his only start. A gelded son of Wee Thunder, Buttonwood Thunder had a bullet work last week.

There are three first-time starters in the race - Wisdom's Whisper, Scituate Harbor, and Storm Quest.

Viewers to compete for trip to Derby

Suffolk Downs Tonight, the track's nightly replay show, next week will offer viewers a chance to win a trip for two to the Kentucky Derby.

At the end of each show on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, hosts Larry Collmus and Pat Lamberty will name a top performer from that afternoon. After Wednesday's show fans will be asked to call or email with those three names to be eligible to win the trip. The winner will be announced next Saturday, April 5.

The program airs race nights at 11:30 p.m. on WBPX-TV 68 in Boston and again on the track's simulcast network at the start of each racing day.