07/03/2002 11:00PM

Prioress fillies share attributes


ELMONT, N.Y. - It seems like the seven 3-year-old fillies assembled for Saturday's $200,000 Prioress Stakes at Belmont Park are all the same. They all have a good bit of speed and are capable of running Beyer Speed Figures in the mid- to upper-90's.

Because of the versatility she has shown in winning her last three starts, Proper Gamble rates a tepid call in the wide-open Prioress, the only Grade 1 race exclusively for 3-year-old fillies run at six furlongs.

Proper Gamble pressed the pace winning the Dearly Precious Stakes in February, came from off the pace to win the Grade 3 Cicada in March, and made all the pace winning the Grade 2 Beaumont in April. She is the only multiple graded-stakes winner in the field, but has not run since April 26.

Trainer Todd Pletcher entered Proper Gamble in the Grade 1 Acorn on June 7, but scratched her when she came down with a virus two days before the race. Proper Gamble missed five days of training, according to Pletcher, but has come back with two workouts, including a bullet five-furlong move in 59.85 seconds on Sunday.

"She's a very consistent filly who runs hard all the time," Pletcher said. "She's adaptable to any pace scenario."

Proper Gamble drew post 6, giving Javier Castellano several options.

Vesta was no match for Proper Gamble in an allowance race last year or the Dearly Precious in February. But, she has reeled off three consecutive victories, including a front-running score in the Grade 3 Miss Preakness at May 16 at Pimlico.

"As a 2-year-old and in the winter she was a little bit on the hyper side," trainer Joe Aquilino said. "She was tough to rate and hard for a rider to get along with her. She's more relaxed now. If she wants to be on the lead or lay second or third she's very comfortable staying in that spot."

Breaking from post 7 should enable Shaun Bridgmohan to place Vesta wherever he wants.

Drippingindiamonds went 3 for 3 for owner Greg James and trainer Jason Cook before being purchased privately by trainer Bobby Frankel in May. Frankel said he is happy with the way she is going now.

The enigma in the field is A New Twist. First or second in her first six starts, A New Twist threw in a clunker when she finished fifth in the Miss Preakness. Trainer John Kimmel is hoping her fondness for Belmont and the fact she doesn't have to ship helps A New Twist bounce back.

Wilzada, who is 3 for 3 at six furlongs; Carson Hollow, an unbeaten New York-bred; and Spring Meadow complete the field.

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