09/15/2005 12:00AM

Singhalese's best may be yet to come

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Singhalese, winning the Del Mar Oaks, is favored over 10 others in Saturday's Pucker Up.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - , like last year's Pucker Up winner, Ticker Tape, was purchased out of England by trainer Jim Cassidy. And like Ticker Tape, she shipped to Arlington Park from California after racing in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. But whereas Ticker Tape lost by a nose, Singhalese won by a half-length, and that is not the only difference between them.

"They're totally different," Cassidy said Thursday morning, with Singhalese settled in here since arriving Tuesday and ready to dance Saturday. "Ticker Tape looks more like a sprinter type. This filly is a big, rangy filly with a big, long stride."

That stride should carry her to a win in the Grade 3, $200,000 Pucker Up, a 1 1/8-mile grass race for 3-year-olds fillies. After that, if things go right, it's on to another Grade 1, but whether Singhalese follows Ticker Tape's path and heads to the Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland or goes for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf is something Cassidy said he hopes to ponder next week.

"That's going to be another point after this," said Cassidy. "Half the owners expect the QE II, half expect the Breeders' Cup."

Paul Dixon, Singhalese's owner when she raced in England, sold 75 percent of the filly to the Gould Family Trust last season. She had been trained in England by Jamie Osborne, who also had Ticker Tape before Cassidy plucked her out of a horses-in-training sale.

"He called and told me he had a pretty nice Singspiel filly I might be interested in," said Cassidy, referring to Singhalese.

Nice, yes, lucky, no, not during the first phase of this season. Singhalese broke from post 10 in the Providencia Stakes in April, her first U.S. start, and had post 11 the next two times. Those races produced two fourths and a third, but there clearly was more in the tank, and Singhalese showed it when she finished third behind Cesario and Melhor Ainda in the American Oaks. A length behind Singhalese was Luas Line, who easily won the Grade 1 Garden City last weekend at Belmont. Garrett Gomez rode Singhalese that day, and Cassidy said Gomez told him he could have been second had he not chased Cesario during the middle of the race. An allowance win got Singhalese the prep she needed for the Del Mar Oaks, and she delivered with a come-from-behind victory.

"She's pretty young," said Cassidy. "She hasn't had that many starts."

In other words, Singhalese might not yet have peaked - bad news for the other 10 in the Pucker Up. Royal Copenhagen finished ahead of Singhalese in the Providencia, but does not seem to have progressed as much through the summer.

"I think the style and the track at Arlington is going to suit her," said Laura de Seroux, who trains Royal Copenhagen.

The rest seem to be a cut below, though finished a long-priced third in the Kentucky Oaks this past spring and more recently was second in the Arlington Oaks.

* Straight Line has never raced on turf, but the way he worked over it Aug. 24 makes him the one to beat in the $40,000 Paradise Creek on Saturday. Ten were entered in the Paradise Creek, a 1 1/16-mile race, and if Straight Line fails to fire, Cosmic Kris might be the one to beat.