10/05/2005 11:00PM

A princess in search of a crown

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Bill Vassar
Silver Highlight, under Martin Dwyer, takes the Wonder Where over Invitational.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The king of trainer Catherine Day Phillips's barn is reigning Canadian champion 3-year-old A Bit O'Gold, and she refers to this year's Breeders' Stakes winner, Jambalaya, as the prince.

The filly she calls the princess of her barn, Invitational, will try to notch her first stakes victory Saturday at Woodbine in the $163,200 Carotene, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies.

Invitational found her niche on the grass this past summer, winning her maiden at 1 1/16 miles July 7. She subsequently ran second to European import Silver Highlight in the 1 1/4-mile Wonder Where Stakes, and then won a 1 1/8-mile allowance by five lengths.

Day Phillips said that Invitational showed potential at 2, and felt the filly might put it all together once she tried a route of ground.

"She breezed nicely at 2, but had some complications and didn't get a chance to run," Day Phillips said. "She trained nicely in Florida over the winter, and we had high hopes for her. We were looking for a chance to run her long, but for one reason or another, we never got to run her long on the dirt. When she first breezed on the turf, she actually didn't breeze very well, going in company with Jambalaya, who took off on her. She was just bobbling along, so didn't think she liked the turf."

Because of that work, Day Phillips said she entered Invitational in that July 7 race hoping it would come off the grass, and was pleasantly surprised when Invitational got the job done. She said she was very impressed with her Wonder Where performance.

"She ran a super race in the Wonder Where," she said. "She had the outside post, but still ran gamely."

Silver Highlight and Top Ten List are also in the seven-horse field of Ontario-foaled fillies for the Carotene.

Silver Highlight, based at Fort Erie with trainer Edward Freeman, won her maiden in her first North American appearance in the Wonder Where. She subsequently ran second to the 4-year-old Stunning Rose in a 1 3/8-mile allowance.

Top Ten List won two consecutive sprint stakes on the turf in July, the Ontario Damsel and Passing Mood. She finished third against older foes in the Victoriana Stakes, and then took the one-mile La Prevoyante Stakes over soft ground three weeks ago.

Top Ten List, a need-the-lead type, will likely be hounded on the front end by Count to Three, who recently finished second in the Ontario Colleen Handicap.