06/30/2008 11:00PM

Tagg taking his time with filly


ELMONT, N.Y. - Inside Passage will likely get the opportunity to prove herself in a graded stakes someday, but for now Wednesday's $75,000 Proud Delta Stakes at Belmont Park suits her trainer, Barclay Tagg, just fine.

Coming off two solid allowance victories, Inside Passage looms the one to beat in the Proud Delta, an overnight stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on the dirt.

John Gunther's Eurowest Bloodstock sent Tagg several horses over the winter, including Inside Passage and her half-sister Take the Ribbon. That duo is a combined 3 for 3.

Inside Passage, a 4-year-old daughter of Tiznow, won a first-level allowance race at Aqueduct on April 24 before coming back five weeks later to win a second-level allowance heat by 4 1/4 lengths at Belmont. Both races were at a mile around one turn, whereas the Proud Delta is run at 1 1/8 miles, also around one turn.

"She'll like that," Tagg said of the added distance.

Tagg and his assistant Robin Smullen both felt Inside Passage's race at Belmont was stronger than her performance at Aqueduct. In both races, Inside Passage broke from the rail and was stuck down inside before Eibar Coa was able to find room on the outside. Wednesday, she breaks from post 3 under Coa.

"Last time, she was into the bit the whole way, she did anything the rider wanted, just waiting for him to say go," Smullen said.

Tagg said he wants to see how Inside Passage fares in a spot like this before tackling bigger and better mares down the road.

"We'll let her take us to the bigger stakes," said Tagg, whose 18 wins at the meet rank second behind Richard Dutrow Jr.'s 20. "Let's try an overnight stakes first, then we'll go from there."

Street Bird and All Night Labor, both drawn directly inside of Inside Passage, look like the main speed of the race.

A strong pace and the added distance could benefit Morning Gallop, who finished second to Inside Passage last out. Morning Gallop also is reunited with Edgar Prado, the last jockey to win a race on her last November.

Runway Rosie had a good winter and spring in New York, but had a troubled trip when she finished last in the Grade 2 Allaire duPont Distaff at Pimlico. Runway Rosie is a proven commodity at the distance, with a stakes win and two stakes placings. Rajiv Maragh rides from post 4.