01/21/2009 1:00AM

Contessa dropdowns key to carryover

Brandon Benson/NYRA
Malibu Moonshine

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Bettors had two dark days to ponder a pick six carryover of $35,753 left from Monday's holiday program.

To get through unscathed, they must weigh the chances of Gary Contessa-trained class dropdowns in the last three legs: Malibu Moonshine in a bread-and-butter claiming route; Pitched Perfectly in a first-level allowance route for 3-year-olds; and Mr. Umphrey in a $16,000 claiming sprint for nonwinners in six months.

"This should be a good day for me," said Contessa, whose shortest price among seven entries comes before the pick six - Hanna Can Fly who looms an obvious favorite to win race 2, a maiden route.

Last winter, Malibu Moonshine won the Stymie Handicap for the 10th and fastest victory of his career. But coming off a layoff three weeks ago he stumbled at the break and never got untracked behind Barrier Reef, who came back to win the Evening Attire Stakes. Malibu Moonshine's best chance in race 7 comes if Tiger D.R. sets too fast a pace over an inner track that has been favorable to stretch runners recently.

"He's getting a little long in the tooth," said Contessa of the 7-year-old Malibu Moonshine. "But this is a suitable drop for him."

Pitched Perfectly takes on six rivals in race 8 at a mile and 70 yards, and breaks from the rail, the same post he had in the Count Fleet Stakes when he gave futile chase to the streaking Haynesfield.

"He's got the rail again and we're not going to make the same mistake - he's going [for the lead]," said Contessa.

Two starts back Pitched Perfectly was a front-end maiden winner despite jumping gate tracks. "I've got a shadow roll on him that's so big, it looks like a balloon," Contessa said. "I don't know how he even sees them.

"From day one, I've thought the world of him. I think he's going to be a stakes horse someday."

Pitched Perfectly's main rivals are Land Grant and the just-purchased Cliffy's Future, second and third last out, respectively, behind Professor Z - who stopped badly as the favorite in Monday's $50,000 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park.

Mr. Umphrey won the Longfellow Stakes last June, but his form has deteriorated since.

"He hasn't run a lick for me, but if there's a wake-up in him, this is the right level," said Contessa. "I want this horse taken a hold of and finishing strong, and I think Rosie [Napravnik] fits him well."