03/17/2005 1:00AM

Showdown in Hillsborough


OLDSMAR, Fla. - Delta Princess, whose late rally carried her to victory in the Endeavour Stakes over the Tampa turf last time out, takes on the Suwannee River Stakes winner, Snowdrops, when a field of 12 female turf runners meets in the Grade 3, $100,000 Hillsborough Stakes on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs. The Hillsborough and the Holiday Inn Express Stakes at five furlongs on the turf are part of a strong undercard on Festival Day, which is highlighted by the Tampa Bay Derby and Florida Oaks.

Heberto Castillo will return aboard Delta Princess for trainer Bill Mott. A 6-year-old A.P. Indy mare, Delta Princess will carry 122 pounds under the allowance conditions of the Hillsborough. Edgar Prado will ride Snowdrops for trainer Christophe Clement at 122.

In the $100,000 Endeavour, languished in last place in the field of 11, then overcame a slow pace when she swung to the far outside out of the second turn and closed with a strong rush that carried her to victory over her stablemate Fast Cookie. The win was the ninth of Delta Princess's career.

has been a model of consistency for Clement, having finished no worse than fourth in her last 10 outings, with most of those efforts coming against stakes and handicap company. Last season she won the Politely Stakes at Monmouth. Since coming to Florida late last season, Snowdrops has finished second to Something Ventured in the Grade 3 My Charmer and third in the Marshua's River Stakes.

Last time out, in the Suwannee River, Snowdrops rallied late along the rail to post a three-quarter-length victory.

, a close fourth in the Endeavour from a tough outside post; Adobe Gold, who returns to the turf off a solid third in the Grade 3 Sabin Handicap on the dirt at Gulfstream; and local favorite Rizzi Girl, a former claimer who was fifth, beaten less than two lengths, in the Endeavour, top the challengers in a race that shapes up as the best betting race on the program.

Whenthedoveflies faces males again

The $75,000 Holiday Inn Express Stakes at five furlongs on the turf has drawn an overflow field of 14 turf sprint specialists, headed by the amazing Whenthedoveflies. She is going after her 11th win from 18 lifetime starts while taking on males again in this first running of the Express.

, beaten a diminishing neck in a prep for today's race off a six-week break, won the Born Famous Stakes at Calder in her 2005 debut, and last season won 6 of 8 starts, including the $100,000 Calder Turf Sprint Handicap.

Jose Lezcano will ride Whenthedoveflies at 119 pounds.

Scattering Breezes, a stakes-placed veteran who comes off a five-month break for this one, and Placido, who bested Whenthedoveflies for one of his two victories over the local course, top the challengers Cornelio Velasquez will pilot Scattering Breezes at 118, while Jose Ferrer returns on Placido, also at 118.