08/30/2007 11:00PM

Two fillies seek return to past glory

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Both Runway Rosie and Romance Is Diane will be seeking to return to their former glory when they compete in a wide-open version of the $125,000 Torrey Pines Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Sunday at Del Mar. Neither filly has won a race this year, yet both have run well against far better company than they will be facing going a mile on Polytrack on Sunday.

The question is whether, in September of their 3-year-old year, they are past their prime and ready to be picked off by one of their nine rivals, several of whom are up-and-comers with strong form over Polytrack. It makes for a challenging start to the pick four, and a significant hurdle for handicappers trying to get through the third leg of the pick six.

Runway Rosie was no factor behind Romance Is Diane in last fall’s Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet, but she acquitted herself well this spring against division leaders Rags to Riches and Baroness Thatcher in races at Santa Anita. She has not raced since finishing last of five in the Santa Anita Oaks, which was won by Rags to Riches.

“We gave her time off by choice,” David Hofmans, the trainer of Runway Rosie, said at his barn on Friday morning. “She ran such an unusual race that day. We thought maybe we had been running her too much. She seems to like this track in the morning. Whether that will translate into the afternoon, I don’t know. It looks like everybody else has a recency edge, but she couldn’t be doing any better.”

Romance Is Diane turned in three disappointing races after her win in the Starlet, but perked up last time with a fast-finishing third in the seven-furlong Fleet Treat Stakes here on July 22.

“I don’t really think seven-eighths of a mile is her best distance,” said Mike Mitchell, who trains Romance Is Diane for owner Senji Nishimura.

“The owner and I were just happy she came back running. I think she looked at the Form this spring, saw she was running against Rags to Riches and said, ‘What are you doing to me?’

“She came out of the race really good. She’s sound, looks great, and is holding her weight good.”

Silver Swallow has finished second in the Santa Anita Oaks and Hollywood Oaks this year, and rallied for second in a first-level allowance race here on July 26.

Ask Sam was a dazzling debut winner sprinting here on Aug. 16. She won by six lengths while earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 93, a figure that must be respected despite this ambitious jump in class.

Swiss Diva was second as the favorite in the Fleet Treat, beating Romance Is Diane by a head.