01/13/2005 1:00AM

Quiet Optimism tough on cutback

Email

OLDSMAR Fla. - Quiet Optimism, a pace factor in both the Pocahontas and Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs in her last two starts, returns to a sprint distance on Saturday, and leads a field of 14 3-year-old fillies in the 26th running of the $60,000 Sandpiper Stakes.

Quiet Optimism left the winless ranks in her fourth start at Ellis Park, then came back and finished fourth in the Ellis Debutante in her first start against winners.

She moved to Turfway Park and was a pace factor to midstretch in allowance company before weakening to third. She changed tactics in her next allowance outing, stalking the leaders to the quarter pole and then launching a bid that carried her to a 5 1/4-length victory.

That strong performance prompted trainer Vickie Foley to try stakes company and a longer distance in the one-mile Pocahontas. Quiet Optimism led into the final furlong of that race before weakening to finish fourth to Punch Appeal at 19-1. Racing around two turns for the first time in the 1 1/16-mile Golden Rod, Quiet Optimism pressed the pace into the stretch before fading to sixth.

Even though she is by Deputy Minister, Quiet Optimism appears to be better suited to sprint races and must be considered a top threat in this six-furlong race.

Jesus Castanon is named to ride Quiet Optimism at 116 pounds.

Joyous Song, a winner of three of her last five starts, including the Hildene Stakes at Delaware Park, also returns to a sprint after finishing fourth in the $250,000 Delta Princess Stakes over a mile at Delta Downs. She is a late closer who should fare well in this field, which includes many horses with early speed.

Winston Thompson is named aboard Joyous Song at 122 pounds.

Portsea, who set the pace into the stretch of the Grade 2 Spinaway at Saratoga before fading to sixth behind Sense of Style, was supplemented to the Sandpiper by trainer Todd Pletcher.

Even though she's been off since August, she has been training brilliantly for her 2005 debut and will attract a lot of public support.

Chris DeCarlo rides Portsea at 116 pounds.