05/09/2008 11:00PM

Two in Polly's Jet take big drops


Several 3-year-old fillies whose connections may be targeting the $500,000 Delaware Oaks in a couple months will get a feel for the track and an opportunity to prove they might be good enough to compete at the Grade 2 level in Monday's $55,000 Polly's Jet Stakes at Delaware Park.

The 1 1/16-mile Polly's Jet can be used as a stepping-stone to the $150,000 Susan's Girl at 1o1/16 miles on June 14 and the meet's premier race for 3-year-old fillies, the 1 1/16-mile Delaware Oaks, on July 12.

The Polly's Jet, an overnight stakes, drew a field of six, including African Violet and Paint Me Red, both of whom are taking a steep class drop.

African Violet, from the high-percentage barn of Graham Motion, was ambitiously spotted in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland after winning her maiden and clearing her first-level allowance condition in back-to-back starts at Gulfstream Park. Making her first start on Polytrack, African Violet flashed brief speed before falling back to finish last of seven. The Ashland proved to be a productive race, producing the one-two finishers of the Kentucky Oaks in Proud Spell and Little Belle.

Back on dirt, and with two recent works over the local track, African Violet can be expected to improve in this spot.

Paint Me Red is more difficult to gauge. Based in New York with trainer Gary Contessa, Paint Me Red came from far back to win the Busanda over Aqueduct's inner track in January, then was completely outrun when she returned from a nearly four-month freshening in the Grade 3 Nassau County at Belmont Park on May 3. Statistically, Contessa is only 1 for his last 14 with fillies and mares stretching out from sprints to routes in their second start off a layoff.

Conversely, trainer Larry Jones is 7 for 27 (26 percent) with fillies and mares going long in the second start of their form cycle, a pattern that fits Eagle's Song. She came from far back to finish third in the $75,000 Instant Racing at Oaklawn Park last time out and proved her affinity for Delaware's main track when she won her maiden locally last October. In addition, Jones is off to a fast start at the meet, saddling 4 winners in his first 12 starts.

Open Skies ships north after spending the winter in Florida, where she most recently romped in a first-level optional $25,000 claimer at Gulfstream Park.