05/15/2003 12:00AM

Balmy healthy and in top form


As a 2-year-old, Balmy showed so much potential that trainer John Servis was prepared to put her into a graded stakes in only her second lifetime start. A series of mishaps not only derailed those plans but also left Balmy near death.

Although Balmy recovered, she went 16 months and six starts - including her entire 3-year-old season - without winning a race.

Finally fully healthy, Balmy has revitalized her career, thanks to a change of equipment suggested by an exercise rider. The now 4-year-old Balmy seeks her fourth straight win of the season in Saturday's $75,000 Sweet and Sassy Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares at Delaware Park.

Balmy, a daughter of Salt Lake, began her career winning a maiden race at Monmouth Park. Servis intended to run her in the Grade 3 Sorority, a $150,000 stakes at the end of Monmouth's summer meet.

"I really thought she would have won the Sorority in a gallop," Servis recalled. "She was really that good."

Balmy never made it to the Sorority.

"About two days before we were supposed to enter, she got kicked on the racetrack on her knee," Servis said. "We ended up having to give her a bunch of time off to get over that."

Balmy recovered to win an allowance race in October 2001, but soon after was diagnosed with an entrapped epiglottis. Following a routine throat surgery, Balmy developed a serious case of colitis.

"She really was as close to death as you can possibly get without dying," Servis said. "It was that bad. The doctors at New Bolton [Pa.] actually called us and told us that if she was no better in a day or two then we should consider putting her down. After a couple of days, they called us back and told us that she seemed to be improving some and she ended up pulling through."

When Balmy finally came back to the Servis barn after a six-week stay at the New Bolton clinic, she was training great, but not running well.

"After a workout, my exercise girl told me that she was acting like she would do a lot better in blinkers," Servis said. "We tried the blinkers and she has not been beaten since."

In three starts since adding blinkers, Balmy has won a pair of allowance races and most recently drew off to capture the Primonetta Stakes at Pimlico by 1 1/4 lengths. She has earned a 95 Beyer Speed Figure for each of her last two races.

Balmy's main competition in the Sweet and Sassy will come from Skip the Print and Haunted Lass, the one-two finishers from the Late Bloomer Stakes on April 28, and New York shipper Literary Light, who beat allowance horses at Aqueduct in her last start.

Iwinski off to fast start

Trainer Allen Iwinski's horses were clearly primed for peak performances when Delaware opened.

Coming into Saturday's program, Iwinski has been winning at a phenomenal 44 percent clip with 12 wins, 6 seconds, and a third from 27 starters.

Iwinski should continue to do well because he has good horses in almost every division. Among his best are Private Lap, a 4-year-old colt who earned a Beyer of 110 in last weekend's Quick Card Stakes at one mile, and Devon Rose, a 4-year-old filly who recently crushed optional claimers going a mile.

Iwinski has no definite plans for either one. The next Delaware stakes that fits Private Lap is the $100,000 Brandywine Handicap at one mile on June 7. The $55,000 Summer King Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on June 2 is the next logical spot for Devon Rose.