08/25/2005 12:00AM

No shortage of threats to Bully Bones


DEL MAR, Calif. - Bully Bones's reputation soared when she won the Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes on Aug. 6 after a layoff of more than three months. She fought for the lead throughout the 6 1/2-furlong race and beat eight rivals, showing no effects from the time off.

The victory has done little to make her next assignment any easier. In Saturday's Grade 1, $250,000 over seven furlongs, Bully Bones faces 10 rivals, including several recent maiden winners that have added depth to the 2-year-old filly division.

"I don't think I've scared too many people off," said David La Croix, who trains and co-owns Bully Bones.

Bully Bones may not go favored. There is considerable buzz surrounding Wild Fit, who beat maidens by four lengths in her career debut Aug. 14. The victory was all the more impressive considering that Wild Fit had trouble in the first furlong, but pulled it together under jockey Alex Solis to swoop past the leaders on the turn and draw off.

"Going five and a half furlongs and the way she broke, I thought she was done," trainer Jeff Mullins said. "He shifted her to the outside and she went past them. She's a pro. She acts like a seasoned 3-year-old. She's an exceptional individual and all business."

Wild Fit is the most prominent of the recent maiden winners in the Debutante, a contingent that includes Calamity June, Golden Silk, Miss Norman, and Mystery Girl.

Mystery Girl runs as an entry with Diplomat Lady, who finished fourth in the Sorrento. Mystery Girl was third in the Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 2 and returned to win a maiden race by four lengths here July 23. Both fillies are owned by Charlie Cono and trained by Christopher Paasch.

Add to the field the Hollywood Park stakes winners Indian Breeze and River's Prayer, who are coming off losses, and Bully Bones will need to be brilliant to win the Debutante.

River's Prayer won the Cinderella Stakes in June and was second as a heavy favorite to Indian Breeze in the Landaluce Stakes. Leading jockey Victor Espinoza rides River's Prayer for the first time.

The Debutante will be Bully Bones's first race against River's Prayer or Indian Breeze, who finished eighth in the Sorrento after fighting for the early lead.

Bully Bones was plagued by sore shins after winning a maiden race at Hollywood Park on April 23. La Croix said he is hopeful that she will not regress following her performance in the Sorrento.

"She seems to be doing well," La Croix said. "Three weeks between races should be enough. If she doesn't run well, you could say she bounced, but I think she should run well.

"I figure we're going in there as good as we did in the Sorrento. If she's as good as she was in the first two, I think we'll be tough."