05/09/2003 12:00AM

'Prospect' hard to beat on dry strip

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AUBURN, Wash. - Bisbee's Prospect will attempt to reprise her superlative performance in the opening-day U.S. Bank Stakes on Sunday when she takes on six other 3-year-old fillies in the $40,000 Federal Way Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Bisbee's Prospect, a homebred daughter of Smart Strike who races for Jerre Paxton's Northwest Farms, blew away eight rivals in the six-furlong U.S. Bank Stakes, winning off by nearly five lengths in a sparkling 1:08.20. Trainer Bob McMeans said that Bisbee's Prospect has continued to thrive and said he has only one concern.

"She doesn't really like mud, so I hope it doesn't rain," he said. "She tries, but she tends to cut herself on off tracks so I've tried to avoid them when I work her."

Tavy's Plan, who ran second in the U.S. Bank Stakes, is sitting out this dance with a minor ankle problem, according to trainer Len Kasmerski, but third-place finisher Top Penny is back for another crack at Bisbee's Prospect.

Top Penny's trainer, Doug Driever, hopes that different tactics will lead to a different result.

"She is at her best as a closer, but in the U.S. Bank Stakes we were worried about Tavy's Plan getting loose on the lead and we felt we had to maintain contact with her," said Driever. "We're hoping for a different set-up this time, but in any case we're going to let her come from behind and run her own race."

Among the possible pace candidates are Youcan'ttakeme, Washington's top 2-year-old filly last year, and Silk N Diamonds, winner of the Miss Gibson County Stakes at Turf Paradise in November.