03/11/2009 11:00PM

All Giving will have to work hard for a repeat


Puskita and Fascinatin' Rhythm, a pair of extremely sharp 4-year-old fillies, pose a stiff challenge for defending champion All Giving in Saturday's $50,000 Conniver Stakes at Laurel Park.

The Conniver, a seven-furlong race for Maryland-bred fillies and mares, goes as race 9 and serves as the first leg of a Magna 5 that features a carryover of $218,894.

A multiple stakes winner who is 10 for 28, All Giving looks formidable over a track where she has been no worse than second in 8 of 11 starts. In 2008, she won the Conniver with an 87 Beyer Speed Figure, along with the off-the-turf The Very One against open company and the restricted Alma North at Timonium.

Trained by Flint Stites, All Giving comes into the Conniver off a career-best 97 Beyer earned for her win in an optional $50,000 claimer last month.

Puskita, 3 for 4 lifetime, and Fascinatin' Rhythm, first or second in 7 of 8 starts locally, both are seeking their first stakes win.

Puskita, from the high-percentage barn of Larry Murray, has been off since romping to a nine-length win against optional $25,000 claimers in January. She will be facing Maryland-breds for the first time.

Fascinatin' Rhythm, trained by Richard Small, was good enough to hit the board against open stakes company in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap and the one-mile Nellie Morse in her last two outings. An extremely consistent filly who has recorded Beyers in the narrow range of 84 to 88 in her last six starts, she finished second each of the two times she faced Maryland-breds.

Trainer Scott Lake will send out a potential upset candidate in the much-improved 6-year-old mare Met a Miner. Claimed for $14,000 in January after a string of failures to clear her first allowance condition, Met a Miner has been dominating in her two starts since joining Lake's stable.

She beat first-level allowance runners and second-level optional $25,000 claimers by a combined margin of 17 1/2 lengths while earning back-to-back Beyers of 81 and 94. A pure front-runner, Met a Miner will be dangerous if she gets an unpressured lead and can set soft fractions.