08/22/2006 12:00AM

Some tough foes for 'Wildcat'


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Wildcat Bettie B is coming off a Grade 1 victory, whereas Cherokee Jewel has never even run in a graded stakes race. But despite the obvious differences in the quality of their recent competition, they may wind up vying for the top prize in Thursday's Grade 3, $100,000 Victory Ride Stakes at Saratoga, a six-furlong dash that drew a highly competitive field of eight 3-year-old fillies.

has not started since rallying from the rear of the pack to win Belmont's Grade 1 Prioress Breeders' Cup on July 8. The win was her second straight, and third in her last four starts. One start before the Prioress, she recorded a wire-to-wire victory in Pimlico's Grade 3 Miss Preakness Stakes this spring.

"She's the kind of filly you can do anything you want with, which is a big advantage, because we can gauge the pace and go from there," said trainer Larry Jones. "We backed off on her after the Prioress due to a little eye problem, but she's doing really good, and we're looking forward to getting her back to the races."

Cherokee Jewel should also come running late from off what figures to be an honest pace in the Victory Ride. She has won 4 of 5 career starts, including the Capote Belle Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths here Aug. 4. Eibar Coa will ride from post 2.

"Running back in three weeks is a little close, but that might be splitting hairs," said Tim Hills, who trains Cherokee Jewel for owner Robert Susi. "She's the kind of horse who never has a bad day and gives you a lot of confidence every time she runs. The race should set up for her, and the post is not a concern, because she's already shown she's not afraid to come on the inside. She's unbeaten at the distance and over the track, so she's got a lot going in her favor. She should have no excuses."

Original Spin, who finished second after setting the pace in the Grade 1 Test, may be the one to catch again. Both Misty Rosette and Any Limit, who tired to finish third and sixth after pressing Original Spin in the Test, will also show early speed, as will Canadian invader Summer Girlfriend.

G City Gal, victimized by bad luck in her last two starts, will break from the rail and will likely have to be urged along early by jockey John Velazquez.

Khalila led leaving the eighth pole before being outfinished by Cherokee Jewel in the Capote Belle.