06/23/2008 11:00PM

Imports both had trouble


ELMONT, N.Y. - Trips tell the tale on turf, so the keys to Thursday's second-level optional claimers may be Prianca and Hatta Fort, imports who took the worst of it recently.

Prianca, a listed stakes winner in Italy at 3, ran into trouble early and often when she ran fourth in her U.S. debut, yet was beaten just over a length. Prianca tries again for trainer Angel Penna Jr. as one of eight turf-meant fillies entered in race 5, scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf.

"She had a little bit of a bad trip that day," said Penna. "I think she's a nice filly, but this is not an easy race. There's a couple of fillies in there that can run."

Jeux de Danse, who edged Prianca for third, subsequently faded in a muddy off-the-turfer at Monmouth. She rebounded with a bullet work last Friday, however, and is part of a Gary Contessa-trained entry with Survived, who has won 2 of 3 since returning from a layoff.

Other contenders are West of Gibraltar, who overcame trouble to win her first-level allowance condition last out; Contentious, a winner of her first U.S. turf start at Gulfstream; and Junkanoo Party, a New York-bred who won at 12-1 and 15-1 here last year.

The 3-year-old Hatta Fort, a Group 2 winner at Newmarket last July, takes on seven older rivals in race 8, scheduled for six furlongs on the Widener turf.

Hatta Fort, owned by Godolphin Racing, rallied late to miss by a nose in the Lafayette at Keeneland in his U.S. and 3-year-old debut, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 99. Off that Polytrack performance Hatta Fort was the 2-1 choice in the one-mile Hill Prince, but checked in fourth after some early trouble.

"He was back where we thought he'd be early, and for whatever reason he just got a little keen," said Rick Mettee, who oversees Godolphin's New York string. "He came up a little empty in the stretch, so we don't know if it was attributable to him just pulling a little bit or whether he did not stay the mile. "

Redefined, trained by Tony Dutrow, is a six-time winner on turf at Belmont. He comes off a sharp try in his 7-year-old comeback.

Perfect Casting, a two-time winner in Ireland, hasn't raced since January. He ran third here in the Light N Music last fall.