06/24/2011 1:11PM

Churchill Downs: Persuading may have pace problem


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Finding the fastest horse in Sunday’s fourth race at Churchill Downs, a $68,200 third-level allowance at a mile on turf, isn’t difficult. It is 6-5 morning line favorite Persuading, a filly who has run Beyer Speed Figures of 90 or higher in four grass races this year.

None of her opponents has run such a high number, with Sweetest Song having come closest, running a pair of 88 Beyer Figures on turf this spring.

Persuading is also classy, having managed a trio of on-the-board finishes in graded stakes in Florida this winter, not to mention a second to Grade 1-placed Snow Top Mountain in an allowance last time out at Churchill on May 7.

But a deeper analysis of the race reveals Persuading is far from a cinch. A potential problem for her is that longshot Hidden Value prefers to run the same way Persuading does – racing loose on the lead – and with Hidden Value being fresh and coming out of dirt sprints, Persuading may have to be rated by regular jockey Jesus Castanon or risk engaging in a speed duel.

An analysis of the fitness level of Persuading is also difficult, as displayed in her past performances. She shows no published workouts since her May 7 race, something trainer Dale Romans said is inaccurate.

“She’s gotten a couple works in,” he said. “I don’t know why they are not showing up.”

He said she would inform racing officials so the workouts could be announced on raceday.

He said he is pleased with how she is training, and how she performed over the winter at Gulfstream when she showed speed and lasted for some minor awards.

“She could just never hang on, but she got some graded stakes money, and that will especially help her in the in the future,” he said, referring to eventual career as a broodmare.

Persuading, a 4-year-old daughter of Broken Vow, is owned by James Lauffer and Poplar Hill Equine.

Chief among her rivals are stakes droppers Sweetest Song and Riviera Chic, fillies that would benefit from a contested, fast pace. Both were outrun in their last starts, with the former running eighth in the Grade 3 Mint Julep at Churchill June 11, and the latter seventh in the Decoration Day Handicap at Mountaineer May 30.

Arlington shipper Silent Candy and first-time turf runner Bell’s Shoes complete the field.