03/24/2008 11:00PM

Princess Janie lands in softer spot


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Coach Rick Pitino is coming off a good weekend with his Louisville Cardinals, who registered a pair of victories to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Horse owner Rick Pitino hopes to have similar success with his multiple stakes winner Princess Janie when she takes a class drop for Thursday's $75,000 optional-claiming feature at Gulfstream Park.

In the six-furlong sprint, Princess Janie will take on a group of five rivals that includes the Grade 1 stakes-tested Debbie Got Even.

Princess Janie won her maiden here last spring in her second start, then shipped up to New Jersey, where she captured the Just Smashing and Mongo Queen stakes at Monmouth Park. She used stalking tactics to win both races.

Princess Janie has been unable to duplicate that form in three subsequent starts, although her last two outings, the Grade 3 First Lady Handicap here and the Bienville Stakes at Fair Grounds, came over off tracks. The First Lady was run over a sloppy main track Jan. 13 and the Bienville over yielding turf earlier this month.

Princess Janie has been prepping at her Palm Meadows base, where she worked a bullet half-mile in 47 seconds on Friday.

Debbie Got Even has not started since finishing a distant fourth following an unlucky start in the Gradeo3 Victory Ride Stakes last summer at Saratoga. She had finished a wide-running seventh three weeks earlier in the Grade 1 Test. Trained by Nick Zito, Debbie Got Even has worked well for her return with a steady series of drills at Palm Meadows that includes a bullet half-mile in 47.80.

Silver Knockers returns

Zito will have another of his Grade 1-tested fillies, Silver Knockers, in action in Thursday's co-featured sixth race, a $25,000 optional claimer at one mile.

Silver Knockers will be seeking her first win since opening her career with a pair of impressive victories here last winter. She has placed in four graded stakes, including a third in the 2007 Grade 1 Prioress at Belmont Park.

Silver Knockers will have to be sharp off the bench to beat trainer Joe Orseno's uncoupled duo of Lady Byar and Lia's Luck. Lady Byar is a 10-time winner and one-mile specialist, while Lia's Luck exits a pair of second-place finishes in allowance company.