12/06/2011 4:47PM

Aqueduct: Kelly sends pair in Soft Morning Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Spa City Princess could benefit from a wet track in Thursday’s Soft Morning Stakes.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The long and short of it is that Pat Kelly sends out 40 percent of the field in Thursday’s $60,000 Soft Morning overnight stakes. Spa City Princess is the 9-5 favorite on the morning line, and Bailzee is the 8-1 outsider in a field of five New York-bred fillies and mares.

A threat of rain and snow showers appears favorable for Spa City Princess, who ran on sealed wet surfaces in her first four starts of the year and picked up stakes wins on the both dirt tracks at Aqueduct.

“She likes the inner track and doesn’t mind the water,” Kelly said.

Bailzee should relish the return to the inner track, where she won the first two starts of her career two winters ago. Although Bailzee remains eligible for second-level allowance conditions 12 starts later, she has turned in some credible performances recently, including a fourth-place finish in the Iroquois – just a couple lengths or so behind stablemate Spa City Princess – and a late run to finish second in the slop three weeks ago.

In the mile and 70-yard Soft Morning, Bailzee makes her first around two turns on dirt.

“We’ll give it a whirl – let them battle it out up front and see what happens,” said Kelly of the stretch-running sprinter. “If she doesn’t handle two turns, there’ll be some short stuff for her through the winter meet.”

Opus A and Saltamontes break from the two innermost posts and appear likely to vie for the early lead.

Any moisture in the track should be suitable for Opus A, who has won twice on the inner track when it was harrowed and good, beginning with the East View Stakes as a 2-year-old for Rick Violette Jr.

As the only 3-year-old in the lineup, Saltamontes gets anywhere from 3 to 7 pounds from her four older rivals. The Rudy Rodriguez-trained filly could be the “now” horse, having snapped a 364-day winless drought with blinkers on at Belmont, followed by a career-best Beyer Speed Figure in a division of the New York Stallion Stakes, in which she dueled for the lead and held well for second behind even-money favorite Lady On the Run.

Mineralogist, the champion juvenile New York-bred filly of 2009, won this year’s Saratoga Dew in her first and only two-turn dirt start. Trained by John Kimmel, she shoulders top weight of 124 pounds under the allowance conditions.