02/21/2008 12:00AM

Backseat Rhythm starting '08 on turf


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Turf or dirt, it just doesn't matter. Not to trainer Patrick Reynolds and apparently not to his versatile, two-time Grade 1-placed Backseat Rhythm, who will launch her 3-year-old campaign on the grass in Friday's co-featured seventh race, a $41,500 entry-level allowance scheduled to be run at 1 1/16 miles over the Gulfstream Park turf course.

Backseat Rhythm has not started since finishing third behind division leader and Eclipse Award champion Indian Blessing in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. She was also second to that same nemesis in the Grade 1 Frizette. A daughter of El Corredor, Backseat Rhythm tuned up for those two races by posting a 1 1/4-length victory over Country Star to win her maiden race in her only previous start on grass.

"She's really developed physically since her last start, and she's trained to the minute for her return, so turf or dirt, it really shouldn't matter," said Reynolds, who trains Backseat Rhythm for owner Paul Pompa Jr. "She's not only working fast but doing it the right way. My only concern is that this is a bigger field than I'd like to come off the bench in, because even with the best horse you can get tangled up in traffic.

"There are a couple of good-looking fillies in this lineup, and you never know what you'll catch down here, although I think it's a good spot to start, and she's ready to go."

Reynolds is hoping to use Friday's race as a first step toward the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 2.

"Her Breeders' Cup performance stamped her one of the top 3-year-old prospects in the country, and she's still the only horse to beat Country Star," said Reynolds. "Right now I just want to get a good race into her, and then we'll go from there."

The race's full field of 14 also includes Alwajeeha, runner-up in Calder's Tropical Park Oaks; May Meeting, a lightly raced filly who was listed-stakes-placed at 2 in Ireland; and the multiple stakes-placed Return to Paradise.

The horse to beat may be Alwajeeha, who rallied from far back and overcame trouble to finish second behind the graded stakes winner Bsharpsonata in Calder's Tropical Oaks.

May Meeting will be making her U.S. debut and first since shipping to trainer Graham Motion late last fall.

Return to Paradise finished a tiring sixth as the 8-5 favorite after forcing the early pace under similar entry-level allowance conditions on the turf here on Jan. 19.