07/19/2007 11:00PM

Romance Is Diane needs boost in confidence


DEL MAR, Calif. - Grade 1 winners such as Romance Is Diane are not supposed to start in modest stakes such as Sunday's $100,000 Fleet Treat Stakes for California-bred 3-year-old fillies at Del Mar.

The seven-furlong sprint arrives at an ideal time for Romance Is Diane, who is badly in need of a confidence boost. Since winning the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet in a 14-1 upset last December, she has run poorly, finishing seventh in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes in February and eighth in her last two starts - the China Doll Stakes in March and the Melair Stakes in April.

Trainer Mike Mitchell said he regrets starting Romance Is Diane in the Melair. "She was showing signs of being worn out, but it was a $200,000 race for California-breds," he said. "I just got greedy."

Romance Is Diane has worked steadily in recent weeks, and Mitchell is optimistic she can be effective in her first sprint start since last July.

"All I did was freshen her up, and I think she needed that," Mitchell said. "I don't like carrying 125, but she's doing good; I think she'll handle it. I couldn't have her doing any better."

Last fall, Romance Is Diane won three consecutive starts - a maiden race, the California Cup Juvenile Fillies for statebreds, and the Hollywood Starlet. Her career bankroll of $376,150 is considerably higher than that of her nine rivals.

Romance Is Diane is a closer who will be in pursuit of Ooh Yeah, an 11-length maiden race winner at the Alameda County Fair at Pleasanton on July 8. A quick filly, Ooh Yeah makes her first start for a partnership that includes the IEAH Stables and Sanford Robbins and trainer Don Chatlos. They acquired her earlier this month.

Four other fillies won their last start, all in allowance races or optional claimers - Cathrine's Hope, D Pirates Marker, Double Major, and Itsallgreektou.

Double Major, who is likely to show speed, was third in the Sunshine Millions Oaks at Santa Anita in January. Itsallgreektou is seeking her fourth consecutive win, a streak that began in a $50,000 claiming race for maidens in April.

Swiss Diva, trained by Paddy Gallagher, is a threat from off the pace.