09/05/2002 11:00PM

Janet in line for score in Palomar


DEL MAR, Calif. - A drop in class, and a target to run at, are two factors that should lead Janet to a victory in the Grade 2 Palomar Handicap on Sunday at Del Mar.

As the leaders of the female turf division have scattered - Astra and Golden Apples to the Yellow Ribbon on Oct. 5 at Santa Anita, Affluent to the WinStar Galaxy Stakes on Oct. 4 at Keeneland - the Palomar has taken shape as a $150,000 consolation prize.

Eight fillies and mares entered the 1 1/16-mile turf race, in which East Coast-based Voodoo Dancer and West Coast-based Janet will attract most of the wagering. Voodoo Dancer, 8 for 14 and good enough to finish a length behind Astra in May, is the 120-pound highweight. Janet, three-quarters of a length behind Affluent and Golden Apples in July, gets in at 119 pounds.

The remainder of the Palomar field includes Skywriting, the certain pacesetter; Old Money, recovered from ulcers that stalled her progress this summer; I'm the Business, two-time allowance winner at the meet; and graded stakes winner Blue Moon. Three longshots were entered: Chilean import Noches de Rosa, Eurolink Raindance, and comebacker Palace Royale.

Janet finished third as the reluctant pacesetter July 27 in the Grade 1 Ramona Handicap. The effort pushed Janet over the million-dollar mark in earnings, and she figures to add to her 8-for-26 record Sunday.

Trained by Darrell Vienna and owned by Red Baron's Stable, Janet, under jockey David Flores, is not expected to set the pace Sunday. With speedster Skywriting committed to the lead, Janet can tuck into her preferred role as a stalker. Dropping in class, Janet should be able to land the victory, which would give her a third season in which she has won at Del Mar.

Voodoo Dancer, trained by Chris Clemente, has shipped west three times. She won a non-graded stake at Hollywood Park last spring, returned for the Del Mar Oaks in summer and finished fourth at 6-5, and this spring finished a length behind Astra in the Grade 1 Gamely at Hollywood. Two starts since resulted in a Grade 3 win at Churchill and a nose loss to Tates Creek in the Grade 2 Diana at Saratoga.

Based on comparative form, the advantage is obvious. Janet, in her last start, finished a half-length behind Golden Apples, who subsequently won the Beverly D. Voodoo Dancer, in her last start, finished nose in front of Tates Creek, who subsequently finished last in the Beverly D.

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