12/02/2004 12:00AM

Punch Appeal, Summer Raven very similar

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VINTON, La. - For just its third running, the $250,000 Delta Princess will offer an outstanding matchup: Punch Appeal and Summer Raven. The one-mile race for 2-year-old fillies is one of three undercard stakes supporting the $1 million Delta Jackpot.

The Princess drew a field of six, but the focus will be on the two favorites. Punch Appeal and Summer Raven both come into the race on the heels of impressive stakes wins. They each seem at their best using front-running tactics. Both hail from high-profile barns.

is trained by Todd Pletcher, whose stable this year has earned $17 million in purses, more than any other barn in North America.

It's tough to separate the two fillies, but Punch Appeal should go favored because of her 5-for-8 career record, and field-high earnings of $239,840. She has also won two one-mile stakes in her last three starts: the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies around two turns Sept. 18, and the $100,000 Pocahontas at one turn Nov. 6.

"She's awesome - anybody who wins like that is," said Asmussen. "She's just a racehorse. She's very competitive."

Punch Appeal started her career at Calder Race Course with trainer Bill White and won two sprint stakes there, including the $100,000 J J'sdream. During the summer she was purchased privately by Heiligbrodt Stable and Burning Day Farm and turned over to Asmussen.

Donnie Meche has the mount on Punch Appeal, a daughter of Successful Appeal.

Summer Raven makes her two-turn debut in the Princess, and it comes over a six-furlong oval that should play to her front-running abilities. Last year, the race was won wire to wire by Salty Romance, who was also racing around two turns for the first time.

"I think this is right up her alley," Pletcher said of Summer Raven. "She's a speed-natured filly and she should like the track there."

Summer Raven is a winner at one mile, but it came around one turn in the Grade 3 Tempted at Aqueduct in her last start Nov. 2. She led throughout and covered the distance in a sharp time of 1:36.

Summer Raven will break outside of Punch Appeal, from post 6. She will be ridden by Victor Espinoza.

"She's a good filly from the gate, and should be found on the pace," said Pletcher.

The field is completed by stakes winners My Three Sisters, Joyous Song, Snipper Lou, and Cash Counter. The race will go as the sixth, and it is part of a $50,000 guaranteed pick four made up of the stakes on the card. Post time for the first race Saturday is 3 p.m. Central.