08/20/2008 11:00PM

Control System tries Pa.-breds


The ultra-consistent female sprinter S W Aly'svalentine and the 8-year-old gelding Banjo Picker both are going for three-peats in their respective races, while Delaware River attempts to defend his title against Californian transplant Capitano in the $125,000 Smarty Jones Classic, the richest of eight six-figure stakes for Pennsylvania-breds on Saturday's card at Philadelphia Park.

The biggest star, however, is a 4-year-old filly named Control System, who returns to Philly Park for the first time since she began her career with back-to-back lopsided victories 19 months ago.

Control System, winner of the Grade 3 Cicada last season and runner-up in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap early this year, returns from a six-month layoff in the $100,000 Ambassador of Luck Handicap.

The six-furlong Ambassador of Luck, which goes as race 7, immediately precedes the 1 1/16-mile Smarty Jones, the feature on what's billed as Pennsylvania's Day at the Races.

Control System, based at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland with trainer Mike Trombetta, has been off since finishing fourth of six in the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct in March. She will carry high weight of 125 pounds, four pounds more than she has ever successfully handled, while conceding seven pounds to S W Aly'svalentine, a 6-year-old who has won the past two runnings of this stakes, restricted to statebred fillies and mares, and is 11 for 26 lifetime in dirt sprints on fast tracks.

Control System will be dropping from open company to face Pennsylvania-breds for the first time. In her two previous appearances at Philly Park, she crushed maidens by 11 1/2 lengths and romped by 9 1/4 lengths in a first-level allowance.

The field of seven also includes Jet Away Jane, a six-time winner locally who most recently defeated open company in the Day Lilly at Penn National five weeks ago. She carries 123 pounds, one fewer than she did when winning a similar restricted stakes at Philly Park in February.

The Smarty Jones pits the

7-year-old Delaware River, who won by 2 1/2 lengths last year as the even-money favorite, against 7-year-old Capitano, who has run well in his first two starts this season, both against Pa.-breds, after making most of the first 34 starts of his career out West.

Capitano defeated Delaware River by three-quarters of a length when they met a month ago in the 1 1/16-mile Ligature at Penn National. Capitano was getting four pounds from Delaware River in that race, but both horses will carry 122 on Saturday.

Banjo Picker, a winner of 15 of 42 and $576,425, seeks to capture the six-furlong, $100,000 Devil's Honor Handicap (race 5) for the third straight year. He faces just four rivals, but one is Joey Carson, who finished second to one of the nation's best sprinters, Fabulous Strike, two starts ago.

In the other stakes, all worth $100,000:

* Whistle Pig, winner of two straight, brings sharper form into the seven-furlong Captain My Captain Handicap (race 3) than defending champ Secretintelligence. The Delaware Park-based Secretintelligence may appreciate a return to the main track after two unsuccessful experiments on turf.

* In the seven-furlong Northern Fling Handicap (race 4), Who's Happy, second in this race when it was contested at

1 1/16 miles a year ago, and Miss Blue Tye Dye, a winner of back-to-back statebred stakes, head a group of seven fillies mares.

* The versatile Balian, who has won stakes going long on turf and sprinting on dirt in two of his last three starts, switches to a dirt mile for the Peppy Addy (race 6). He beat first-level open allowance company in his last main-track route locally in March.

* Remain Silent, whose four wins in turf sprints include last season's $100,000 Robert Camac Memorial, rates a slight edge over recent second-level allowance winner Baby Goose and starter allowance turf sprint specialist Mathewlovestoparty in the five-furlong Mr. Jenny Handicap on the grass (race 9).

* Royal Pleasure, first and second in two starts against statebreds last season, takes a distinct class drop after running in the Grade 3 All Along and the $200,000 Dr. James Penny Memorial for the Mrs. Penny at 1 1/16 miles on the turf (race 10).