06/21/2008 12:00AM

Sweet Hope looks like a serious threat


A pair of fillies who romped in rapidly run maiden races out of state and another who has been facing top-shelf competition in California will clash in Monday's $55,000 Beautiful Day Stakes at Delaware Park.

The six-furlong overnight stakes for 3-year-old fillies drew nine runners, including three sets of coupled entries.

The strong field includes Indian Way, who earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 for her five-length maiden score at Hollywood Park. She will be making her dirt debut for her new trainer, Tony Dutrow. Also entered is Puskita, a Sondra Bender homebred who won her career debut at Pimlico a month ago by 15 3/4 lengths, earning a 96 Beyer Figure.

The most dangerous filly of all, however, might be Sweet Hope, who has moved into the barn of Larry Jones after making the first six starts of her career in England and facing rugged competition in two races in California.

Purchased for $320,000 at Keeneland's 2-year-old sale in April 2007, Sweet Hope won her United States debut in a $32,000 optional claimer at Bay Meadows, earning a 97 Beyer. The filly who finished third that day, Misty Ocean, came back to win an optional claimer and the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap at Hollywood Park in her next two races.

Last time out, Sweet Hope got off slowly and finished fourth of eight in the Grade 3 Railbird Stakes over Hollywood's Cushion Track. She was only a length behind Lethal Heat, who came back to win the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks on June 8.

Sweet Hope is coupled with My Heavenly Sign, who has won two in a row and 3 of her last 4 starts.

Indian Way, who sold for $280,000 as a yearling at Keeneland, has only one workout on dirt, a slow five-furlong breeze in 1:02.60 at Aqueduct. She must be respected, though, on the basis of Dutrow's 20-for-47 record (43 percent) with horses returning within 30 days after winning their maiden.

Indian Way is a half-sister to Yankee Master, who won the Bourbon County Stakes on turf in 2005. She is coupled with another former Eoin Harty-trained Southern California import, Silk Thunder, who will also be making her first start on dirt after going 1 for 4 on synthetic surfaces.

Maryland-based trainer Larry Murray brings along Malcolm Franklin to ride Puskita for her second career start. Earlier this year, Murray saddled another Bender-owned 3-year-old filly, Access Fee, to back-to-back lopsided wins in her first two career starts.

Coincidentally, both Puskita and Indian Way are daughters of Indian Charlie.