08/19/2008 11:00PM

Stakes-winning 3-year-olds top Distaff

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Queen Tina and Bella Mariella, a pair of 3-year-old fillies who have scored stakes victories in 2008, headline Friday's $50,000 Distaff at Assiniboia Downs.

The one-mile Distaff, for Manitoba-bred fillies and mares, attracted a field of nine.

Queen Tina was an easy winner of the R.C. Anderson when facing fellow Manitoba-bred 3-year-old fillies on July 18.

Bella Mariella was four lengths behind in second that day but returned to win the restricted Gold Strike Stakes on Aug. 8.

Thunder Sky and Hurri Coin, the one-two finishers in last year's Distaff, top the list of older mares who will seek to defeat their younger foes.

Queen Tina's victory in the Anderson came on the heels of her maiden win and signaled her preference for longer distances, as the two races were contested at a mile and 7 1/2 furlongs, respectively.

In open stakes races just before her maiden score and after the stakes win, Queen Tina was well beaten by the dominant Miss Missile and finished ahead of just one foe in each of those two outings.

Bella Mariella has run in seven stakes in her eight lifetime starts and finished in the money in all of her outings except when she was fourth in the Chantilly, three-quarters of a length behind Queen Tina.

Bella Mariella stalked Queen Tina in the Anderson but could not close the gap. Bet down to 3-10 in the Gold Strike, Bella Mariella dueled throughout to win by a neck.

Thunder Sky won this race last year when running close to the pace, but she has yet to win since.

In four starts this year, Thunder Sky has been facing first-level allowance foes and has added just a second and third to her resume. Thunder Sky is the logical pace threat and will need to be caught.

Hurri Coin was stakes-placed twice in 2007 but, like Thunder Sky, has yet to reach the winner's circle this year.

A closer, Hurri Coin has a pair of third-place finishes in 2008 from four starts, but does come into this event with the highest last-race Beyer Speed Figure.