03/10/2009 11:00PM

Contessa entry figures tough in marathon


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Five two-turn races Thursday are highlighted by a one-mile starter allowance that goes as race 8, but the day's richest event is race 3, a $46,000 optional claimer around three turns.

The 1 5/8-mile marathon attracted six grizzled veterans with 225 combined starts, all in for the $35,000 claiming tag, including the Gary Contessa-trained entry of Lord Kipling and Malibu Moonshine, and Successful Affair.

Lord Kipling gets a switch back to Ramon Dominguez, who was aboard for second-place finishes in the Coyote Lakes and Gallant Fox Handicaps earlier this winter.

Two weeks ago, Malibu Moonshine rallied from last to post his first win since last year's Stymie Handicap.

"It's a pretty formidable entry," Contessa said. "Coming off two shorter races, Lord Kipling should be gung-ho to go for the lead, and that's fine. Trust me, I've trained both horses, and Lord Kipling will be five lengths in front of Successful Affair early."

Successful Affair swept the Coyote Lakes and Gallant Fox handicaps for Contessa in December 2006. Now trained by David Jacobson, the long-winded 7-year-old comes off a handy win six weeks ago.

"I've been waiting for this kind of race, but they don't come along that often," Jacobson said.

Successful Affair, who has won or placed in 15 of 19 starts on the inner track, benefited from an easy lead in the mud to win his first start at age 7, but is usually a stalker.

"It's hard to judge pace in these kinds of races," Jacobson said. "It's easy to show speed even if you've never shown it before."

The sleeper could be High Blues, who hasn't shown much recently but was classy enough to run third in the Fort Harrod Stakes last spring at Keeneland.

The $44,000 starter allowance drew a competitive field of eight, including several who are fresh off the best races of their lives.

Among them is Incalzando, who was fifth in Big Brown's 2-year-old maiden win at Saratoga. He was claimed last winter at Gulfstream for $80,000 by Big Brown's original connections, was then sidelined by some minor leg issues, and returned with two lengthy victories for new trainer Bruce Brown.

"He's been a pleasant surprise," Brown said. "He really showed me something in the last race."

Other contenders include All in No Outs, Masala T, Northern Buster, and Judge William.