05/31/2005 12:00AM

Sharp Needle might be slight favorite in turf race


ELMONT, N.Y. - A diverse group of older fillies and mares gets together in Thursday's featured eighth race, a third-level allowance with a $75,000 optional claiming price scheduled for one mile on turf.

None of the six entered for turf is eligible to be claimed. Among the trio of main-track-only entrants - Provincial, Childress, and Think Fast - only Think Fast, a winner at this condition last out, is in for $75,000.

The turf fillies have different backgrounds. was a three-time winner in England last year and has made steady progress in three starts since coming to the U.S. and being given over to trainer John Pregman Jr. She may go favored after finishing fast and missing by a neck under these conditions earlier in the meet.

The Irish-bred Torrestrella won three straight in France last spring, including the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches at Longchamp. After racing rankly under restraint finishing off the board in the French Oaks at Chantilly, she was shipped to Belmont Park and made her first start for trainer Christophe Clement in the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup last September, when she was again rank under a rating hold and beaten a dozen lengths.

returns for her first start at 4 and will be ridden for the first time by Jerry Bailey.

The New York-bred won her first four starts on turf last year, capped by a nose victory in the Yaddo Handicap at Saratoga. She has been outfinished in both of her starts this spring, however, and, as was the case several times last year, has been slow from the gate each time.

An intriguing returnee is , who won her first three starts on Belmont turf, including the 2003 Miss Grillo Stakes. She has not raced since stumbling at the start of the Sands Point here last June and sustaining a leg injury.

Please Take Me Out was transferred to trainer Juan Ortiz during the winter and has been given a series of long workouts recently. Her training pattern looks similar to that of her stablemate and younger half-sister Speedy Music, whom Ortiz saddled for a debut win at a hefty $53.50 mutuel last Friday. Cornelio Velasquez, who rode Speedy Music, is named on Please Take Me Out.

"She's in good shape now," said Ortiz, who added that Please Take Me Out will run only on the turf.

Completing the field are Top Hill, who is a last-out winner at Calder, and Miss Ojea, an import from Argentina.