02/26/2004 1:00AM

Pampered Princess rates edge


OLDSMAR, Fla. - Pampered Princess is the horse to catch in Saturday's $60,000 Wayward Lass Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the main track at Tampa Bay Downs.

A speedy daughter of Indian Charlie, Pampered Princess has won 3 of 5 starts since moving to the barn of Martin Wolfson. Jesus Castanon will ride Pampered Princess at 120 pounds under the allowance conditions of the Wayward Lass. Pampered Princess, a 4-year-old owned by Martin Cherry, was sent south to Wolfson after winning 2 of 4 starts at Turfway Park. Before that she had made three starts on the East Coast but failed to win.

Off from March until September before making her debut for Wolfson, Pampered Princess returned in sharp form, leading throughout to win a nonwinners-of-three-lifetime allowance race. She finished a badly beaten sixth in her next start after being forced to take up sharply into the first turn of an allowance race.

Pampered Princess came back to redeem herself by sprinting clear at the start of a 1 1/16-mile race, leading at every pole, and registering a head victory.

Put in against stakes company in the $100,000 Stage Door Betty at Calder, the Kentucky-bred Pampered Princess vied for the early lead, resisted gamely when challenged, and then continued valiantly through a long drive before falling short at the wire to finish third, beaten a nose and a head in a three-horse photo won by Redoubled Miss.

Freshened for a month, Pampered Princess came back with allowance fillies and mares and notched her fifth win from 12 outings. She pressed the leader from the outset that day, and then continued well through a prolonged duel to post a head victory over Nonsuch Bay.

While there is some speed in the Wayward Lass, Pampered Princess figures to be in front or close to the lead and would appear to have a slight class edge.

Others in the field who bear watching include Really Royal, a winner of 4 of her last 8 starts, and who closed with a rush to be just a half-length behind Mary Murphy in the seven-furlong Manatee Stakes over a sloppy track; and Mary Murphy, who held on to post her second straight win in the Manatee. Dakota Light, a winner of two minor stakes last year at Calder and a close third behind Pampered Princess in an allowance at Gulfstream Park her last time out, also figures to be a factor.

Oliver Castillo will return on Really Royal at 118, Pedro Rodriguez will handle Mary Murphy again at 122, and Joe Judice gets the call on Dakota Light at 116.