07/07/2016 12:36PM

Is there a star ready to emerge in Delaware Oaks?

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Barbara D. Livingston
Kinsley Kisses (left) comes into the Delaware Oaks off a good third in the Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico.

The nine 3-year-old fillies in the $300,000 Delaware Oaks on Saturday aren’t household names, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t potential in the field. As the second half of the season begins, a number of entrants in the 1 1/16-mile Oaks are just now being moved up in class.

The top three choices in the Grade 3 Oaks – Kinsley Kisses, Dark Nile, and Browse – have each started only four times. Browse is the only one of the trio to have raced at 2, and she won her debut at Aqueduct in December.

The Delaware Oaks is one of four stakes at Delaware Park on Saturday. The undercard includes the Grade 3, $200,000 Robert Dick Memorial, a 1 3/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares, and a pair of $50,000 stakes. The Dashing Beauty is a filly-and-mare sprint, and the Cape Henlopen is a 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up.

The card will be streamed live on DRF.com. The Delaware Park meet hits its high point next weekend, when the Grade 1, $750,000 Delaware Handicap will be run.

The Delaware Oaks favorite is Kinsley Kisses, who races for trainer Todd Pletcher. She has good early speed and has shown heart in her last two races while facing top-shelf competition.

After posting front-running wins at Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs last winter, Kinsley Kisses was thrown into the deep end of the pool in the Grade 3 Beaumont at Keeneland. She settled off the front-runner but didn’t pick up the pace immediately when asked. She persevered in the stretch to finish third behind Lightstream, who was third in the Mother Goose last weekend, and Grade 1 winner Nickname.

Kinsley Kisses most recently finished third in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico. She raced on the pace outside eventual winner Go Maggie Go, couldn’t stay with that rival in the stretch, and then was nipped for second by a head.

Kinsley Kisses has worked three times at Saratoga since that race, including a half-mile in 48.60 seconds on July 1.

“She’s coming into this training well and had a sharp breeze last week,” Pletcher said.

Dark Nile, trained by Arnaud Delacour, and Browse, conditioned by Shug McGaughey, have the advantage of having raced over the track. They finished first and second, separated by three-quarters of a length, in the Our Mims, the local prep for the Oaks.

Browse set the pace that day, while Dark Nile sat a few lengths back. Dark Nile rallied to gain the lead in upper stretch, and Browse battled back and made a race of it until deep stretch before being outfinished.

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Dark Nile has now scored three straight two-turn wins. The Our Mims was Browse’s first try around two turns, and it would not be a surprise to see her improve Saturday.

Delaware Oaks, Race 10

KEY CONTENDERS

Kinsley Kisses, by Congrats

Last 3 Beyers: 81-81-74

◗ Faces less-proven competition than in her last two races. The seasoning she has gained may show.

Browse, by Medaglia d’Oro

Last 3 Beyers: 80-77-78

◗ After Dark Nile got by her in upper stretch of the Our Mims, McGaughey adds blinkers to her equipment for the Oaks.

Dark Nile, by Pioneerof the Nile

Last 3 Beyers: 81-77-66

◗ After easier wins at Tampa Bay Downs and Penn National, she took her game a step higher by winning the Our Mims.

“This is the race we have been shooting for, and it is the next logical spot,” Delacour said.

Eighth Wonder, by Pioneerof the Nile

Last 3 Beyers: 77-82-76

◗ Her lone two-turn start is the only time anyone has crossed the finish line in front of her, and she was coming off a six-month layoff and may have been a little short. Nobody has gotten within five lengths of her in her other four races.

◗ Notoriously high-strung, keep an eye on her in the paddock to see how she behaves. This will be her first start away from her home base of Parx. Trained by Dee Curry, she’s fast and surely will take the lead if others hesitate.

Miss Inclusive, by Include

Last 3 Beyers: 67-83-65

◗ She defeated Eighth Wonder in the Parx Oaks but was disqualified for a clenbuterol overage. She flattened out to finish fourth in the Our Mims but may have more to give here for trainer John Servis.