06/01/2005 11:00PM

Motion has strong hand, but High Court is one to beat


Trainer H. Graham Motion is preparing a multi-pronged attack on the season's first turf stakes at Delaware Park. But even Motion may not have enough firepower to threaten High Court, the probable favorite in Saturday's $100,000 John W. Rooney Memorial Handicap.

Motion has entered three, but not all of them will run. His two best hopes rest with Gingham and Lace, moving up in class off a solid second at Keeneland in her first start of the year, and Brightside, a one-time professional maiden who woke up when switched to grass.

His third entrant for the 1 1/8-mile Rooney, the 4-year-old filly , will run only if the race is moved to the main track. Motion's horses will race as separate betting interests.

ran well on the turf as a 3-year-old last season, finishing first or second in 3 of 4 starts, highlighted by a neck loss in the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs. In her most recent start, Gingham and Lace finished 1 1/4 lengths behind Dynamic Cat, a repeat winner, in a second-level allowance at Keeneland.

lost her first 10 starts, but is 2 for 2 since she was transferred to Motion's barn, including an easy win over first-level allowance runners at Pimlico on April 29.

"This will obviously be a big step up going to a $100,000 stakes race from a one-other-than allowance, but it is a tremendous opportunity for her to get some black type while she is doing well," Motion said of Brightside. "I was impressed with her last race. You always hope you see this kind of turnaround, but you rarely ever get it."

Motion said he would consider running either Gingham and Lace or Brightside in the Robert G. Dick Memorial Breeders' Cup, a 1 3/8-mile turf race on July 16, if one runs well Saturday.

To do that, Motion's runners may need for High Court to fire something less than her best shot coming off a six-week layoff.

Although winless in eight starts since winning the Fort Monmouth Stakes in May 2004, , a 5-year-old trained by Michael Matz, has been competitive against classier rivals. She has faced Grade 3 company in her last six starts, highlighted by a pair of seconds at Belmont Park and The Meadowlands.

The value play in the Rooney could be European import Vallera, a two-time Group 3 winner in Germany last year who will be making her North American debut for trainer Michael Dickinson. Vallera, who was also a close fourth in a Group 1 stakes in France, may need soft ground to run her best.