03/08/2007 12:00AM

India finds her niche going long


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - India has not been beaten since moving to two turns in September, and she will attempt to keep her perfect route-record intact on Saturday, when she takes on stakes winners A True Pussycat, Plaid, Gasia, and Christmas Lily in the Grade 3, $175,000 Azeri Breeders' Cup at Oaklawn Park.

The 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares drew a field of six, completed by the stakes-placed Kettleoneup, who adds blinkers. The race should produce starters for the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap here April 7.

India could become a candidate for the Apple Blossom, said her trainer, Todd Pletcher, who won that race last year with Spun Sugar. India is making her first start of the year in the Azeri, following back-to-back stakes wins last September and October. She won the Grade 2 Fitz Dixon Cotillion Breeders' Cup at 1o1/16 miles at Philadelphia Park on Oct. 7. Before that, she won the $65,000 Without Feathers Stakes in her two-turn debut, which came at Monmouth Park on Sept. 10.

"She showed us last fall that she really improved once we got her stretched out around two turns, and we just want to focus on that program this year," said Pletcher.

India shows a nice series of works for her first start in five months. Her latest was a five-furlong move in 1:01.20 at Palm Meadows training center March 4.

"I think we've done enough with her," said Pletcher. "She's been training very well. She's a forward-training filly. She enjoys training, puts a lot into it.

"I wouldn't expect this to be her best effort of the year, but we feel like we've done enough to have her ready."

Chris DeCarlo has the mount on India, who will break from post 6.

"She'll be prominent early, if not on the lead," said Pletcher.

A True Pussycat also has speed, and like India she is looking for a third straight win Saturday. She has won stakes in her last two starts, her most recent the $66,000 Lady on the Run at Aqueduct on Jan. 31. The wins have come in her only starts for trainer Tom Bush.

"I don't think she looks like she ever wants to be too far back in her races," said Bush.

* Oaklawn will increase overnight purses by $1,000 a race beginning Wednesday. The boost is the result of the success of electronic gaming at the track.