08/09/2005 12:00AM

Job 1 for mare: Keep calm

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The enigmatic Cloakof Vagueness was a perfect lady Tuesday morning after working a half-mile in preparation for Thursday's eighth race at Saratoga, the second division of the De La Rose Stakes for older fillies and mares. Her trainer, Phil Hauswald, said he is hoping that deportment continues right through the race, which would give Cloakof Vagueness her best chance at scoring her first stakes victory.

A near-white mare, is coming off a career-best performance in an allowance race at Belmont Park, an effort that makes her one of the leading contenders in Thursday's feature. But both divisions of the De La Rose, one-mile grass races worth $65,000 added each, came up with numerous contenders, seemingly of equal ability, making trips of utmost importance.

In the case of Cloakof Vagueness, however, she often has left her races behind before stepping on the track. No incident was more infamous than last year's Delaware Handicap, when she froze in the paddock before a nationally televised race.

This year, though, Cloakof Vagueness has handled her races better, winning twice in three starts.

"She's a little quirky," Hauswald said. "But she's acting awful good coming up to this."

Her rivals in the eighth race include , a stakes winner at Lone Star Park last time out.

should improve in this spot. "She hit soft ground last time," said her trainer, Bill Mott, Tuesday morning. "My filly needs firm ground."

Trainer Graham Motion has Sweet Science, breaking from post 2, in the eighth race, and said he will also enter her in Friday's $65,000-added Waya Stakes at 1 1/2 miles, then decide which spot was more sensible.

"She has a good post Thursday, and posts are big in these grass races," Motion said.

In the first division, which goes as the sixth race, the Mott-trained Fast Cookie will be trying to capture a division of the De La Rose for the second straight year. She has not raced since April.

"She was booked to Kingmambo, but there was trouble with Kingmambo, so she came back," Mott said. "She's doing fine. It looks like a tough race."

Leading contenders in the sixth race include Path of Thunder, who faced better stakes runners in her last two starts, and Bright Abundance, who won a pair of races, including a restricted stakes race, at Belmont Park this spring.

Brunilda defeated Bright Abundance in the Fort Monmouth on May 30, then was fourth on a soft course in the Eatontown Handicap, also at Monmouth.