02/14/2009 12:00AM

Any Limit to try again vs. Game Face


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Allen Jerkens says he doesn't mind having to send his multiple Grade 2 winner Any Limit back against Game Face in Sunday's $125,000 Hurricane Bertie at Gulfstream Park. The Hall of Fame trainer just thinks a little break in the weights wouldn't be too much to ask for when the pair meet for the second time this winter in the Grade 3 dash at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Game Face defeated Any Limit by 2 3/4 lengths in the Grade 3 First Lady on Jan. 18. Both horses carried 122 pounds that day. Were the Hurricane Bertie carded as a handicap, there is little doubt Jerkens would get his wish and at least a two- or three-pound concession from Game Face in the rematch. Unfortunately, the Hurricane Bertie will be contested under allowance conditions for the first time this winter, and since Any Limit is a graded stakes winner, she, like Game Face, must carry the full load of 122 pounds.

"That's a really good filly," Jerkens said about Game Face. "I can guarantee Any Limit will run as hard as she can against her. It's just a shame she has to do it at equal weights again."

Any Limit set the pace in the six-furlong First Lady but proved no match for Game Face when challenged near the eighth pole. The added distance of the Hurricane Bertie should prove no obstacle for Any Limit, who won the Grade 2 First Flight Handicap going seven furlongs last summer at Belmont.

The First Lady was pretty much a carbon copy of Game Face's similarly dominant performance in the Grade 3 Old Hat here last winter. And trainer Todd Pletcher said she couldn't be doing any better coming into the Hurricane Bertie. The fact she will face only four rivals including Any Limit also put a smile on his face.

"We never mind short fields," said Pletcher. "She's fast enough to lay close if there isn't much pace in this race."

Orinoquia and Saratoga Tango, fourth and fifth in the First Lady, will also try Game Face again. Both will tote the same 120 pounds they carried in the group's previous encounter.

The one new shooter, and a likely pace presence, is Lovely Isle, who exits a third-place finish in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint. The well-traveled filly posted her lone stakes win over the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita in her 3-year-old finale.