03/06/2003 1:00AM

Jill's Layup benefits from caring touch

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East Boston, Mass. - Jill's Layup makes her 2003 debut in Saturday's $35,000 Mystery Jet Stakes for 3-year-old statebred fillies at six furlongs.

Jill's Layup was among the top three juvenile fillies in New England last year. She is 4 for 5 coming into this race with wins in both the statebred and open championship races for 2-year-old fillies last fall.

Owned by Lois Stone and trained by her husband, Edward Stone, Jill's Layup missed some time this winter with foot problems and has always required soft treatment from her 83-year-old trainer.

"I have a feeling she's the kind of horse that doesn't need to do a lot of training to run her best race," said Edward Stone. "She's not 100 percent fit, but she is 100 percent sound and she worked so much faster than I expected this week that I'm really excited. I think she'll be first or second."

Jill's Layup shows just one workout heading into her first race in 3 1/2 months. Her trainer prefers long and slow gallops to short and fast works. Stone thought her exercise Thursday morning might have been quick enough to make the work tab, but it didn't.

"If I was reading the Form and saw just the one workout, I'd have some questions, too," Stone said. "She did have to miss the [Yankee Fashion] and she's only been training for the last couple of weeks, but I feel really good about how she's doing. Put it this way - she beat the third-place horse in her last race by half the length of the grandstand. This time it might only be five or six lengths."

The Stones' main concern comes from rival Glory Be Good. The speedy daughter of Polish Pro has already raced three times this year, including a last-place finish in the Yankee Fashion Stakes. In that race, Glory Be Good was fitted with blinkers by trainer Michelle Nydam, but that experiment has been quickly abandoned.

There are four first-time starters in the field. See Ya Zia makes her debut for leading trainer Ron Dandy and Hycrest Farm. Dandy trained her dam, Z Rated, at the end of her career in 1998.

Judge Barbara had been working toward a first start at Penn National, but arrived in Boston for trainer George Saccardo and Tea Party Stable last month looking to take advantage of the Massachusetts-bred program.

Princess Attitude will be forced to start her career breaking from the rail. Angel Falls makes her debut for owner-trainer-breeder Albert Aversa.

Tiffany's Dancer entered the Mystery Jet following a second-place effort Wednesday. For Love of Matt returns to New England after winning a maiden claiming race at Charles Town in January.

Handicapping contest Friday

Suffolk Downs will hold another handicapping contest next Friday.

The $20 contest will have a similar format to the track's past few handicapping contests, only this time the simulcast signals involved will be Santa Anita, Turfway, Charles Town, and Sam Houston.

Registration starts at 5 p.m. in the Topsider Room.

* Track announcer Larry Collmus will be out of town for Saturday's program. Former Suffolk publicity director T. D. Thornton will substitute.