02/28/2012 1:40PM

Aqueduct: Stephanie Jayne has tactical edge in optional claimer


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Thursday’s card with 64 betting interests – just more than seven per race – is that it will take place in March, which means spring is just around the corner.

One filly who will be sorry to see the winter meet end is Stephanie Jayne, a speedy filly with a tactical advantage against four off-the-pace rivals in race 3, an optional claimer with second-level allowance conditions that carries a purse of $69,000 – more than overnight stakes were worth last winter.

After losing four starts on dirt, turf, and Polytrack in Kentucky, Stephanie Jayne has flourished since being shipped here to New York and transferred to Kiaran McLaughlin. The homebred daughter of Henny Hughes posted a wire-to-wire maiden victory under a mild hand ride in her local debut and returned three weeks later to garner her first-level allowance condition while again not fully extended.

Ramon Dominguez, aboard for both wins, retains the mount on Stephanie Jayne, who breaks in the middle of the field and figures to go favored against Emily Allstar, Indian Burn, Lemon Tiger, and Twice the Lady.

Emily Allstar and Twice the Lady entered for the optional $62,500 claim price.

Emily Allstar heads the field with seven wins and nearly $400,000 in earnings, but is winless in 13 starts since taking the Jersey Girl Handicap in September 2010 for Ben Perkins Jr.

Twice the Lady won twice on wet tracks in the Midwest last year and was most recently second on a sealed wet-fast surface at Gulfstream Park first time off a claim by Dale Romans. She may benefit from anticipated precipitation in the New York area Wednesday and into Thursday.

Lemon Tiger won four times on turf for Dominick Schettino, including two New York-bred allowance races, before coming from dead last to win an open first-level allowance on the inner track Jan. 5.

◗ Three last-out winners clash in race 8, a $51,000 “starter/optional claimer” with a variety of eligibility stipulations.

Cat in the Forest, claimed by David Jacobson after winning his local bow last Friday, breaks from the rail and will be favored over Coaltown Legend, who notched his sixth inner-track win last out for Bruce Levine; and Regal Strike, a punctual favorite in a fast-paced heat Jan. 13.

Bambi Bound, Off the Jak, and Surprise Strike also entered.