05/21/2008 11:00PM

Pace setup may favor Fancy Diamond

Email

Two female sprinters who competed on last fall's Breeders' Cup program at Monmouth Park are among the five likely starters for Saturday's $250,000 My Juliet Stakes at Philadelphia Park.

That list, however, does not include Dream Rush, who is expected to be scratched and will run instead in Sunday's Grade 2 Vagrancy at Belmont Park.

The six-furlong My Juliet still has two graded stakes winners in Wild Gams and Sheets, plus the unbeaten 4-year-old Fancy Diamond, who makes her stakes debut.

Dream Rush's absence would leave the My Juliet without a clear front-runner, which could make things difficult for a closer like Wild Gams.

A 5-year-old mare trained by Ben Perkins, Wild Gams made her first start since November in the Grade 2 Madison over Keeneland's Polytrack, finishing fourth of 11. Two horses who finished behind Wild Gams that day, sixth-place Carriage Trail and 10th-place Looky Yonder, came back to win next time out, earning identical Beyer Speed Figures of 100. Carriage Trail won the Grade 3 Doubledogdare at Keeneland, while Looky Yonder won an optional claimer at Belmont.

Although Wild Gams is 5 for 13 on dirt, her last win on that surface came in October 2006, in the Grade 3 Safely Kept at Laurel Park. She hasn't been better than third in three subsequent starts on dirt, including a troubled ninth over a sloppy track in the BC Filly and Mare Sprint at Monmouth.

Sheets will make her first start since finishing eighth of 12 as the 3-1 favorite in the Miss Woodford on the Breeders' Cup card.

Now trained by Alan Goldberg after being in Thomas Smith's barn last season, Sheets's best race on dirt came on a sloppy track, when she romped in the Grade 3 Azalea at Calder last July.

The lack of early speed in the small field may work in Fancy Diamond's favor. Although she has come from off the pace in her two wins this season, the 3-for-3 Fancy Diamond, from the high-percentage barn of Tony Dutrow, led wire to wire in her career debut against $40,000 maiden claimers at Laurel in February 2007.

Her half-mile fraction of 45.30 seconds in her last start, a six-length win over second-level optional $50,000 claimers at Aqueduct, might be sufficient for Fancy Diamond to grab an uncontested lead on Saturday.