04/15/2007 11:00PM

Coupled pair look about equal


ARCADIA, Calif. - Perhaps it is a good thing for bettors that Darkness Night and Lemon Flower are coupled in Wednesday's seventh race at Santa Anita. They would be difficult to separate in a $50,000 allowance race for fillies and mares on the hillside turf course.

The two 5-year-old mares started in the same race March 25, with Lemon Flower closing five lengths in the final furlong to lose by a head, and Darkness Night making up three lengths in the same span to miss by a length.

The result left trainer Darrell Vienna encouraged. He trains both mares for Mercedes Stable.

The winner of that race, No Lullaby, returned to finish fourth in Sunday's Grade 3 Las Cienegas Handicap.

Darkness Night and Lemon Flower may be favored Wednesday, and are trying to end losing streaks. Darkness Night, who was bred in Argentina, is winless in eight starts in this country. She won a maiden race last April in her final start in Argentina.

Lemon Flower won a maiden race on the hillside turf course in January 2006. She did not start again until this January.

"If you take their best races, it's hard to tell" which one is best, Vienna said. "Lemon Flower is more reliable. I think Darkness Night runs better from behind."

Both of the Vienna-trained mares will be in pursuit of expected pacesetter Wickersham, who won an allowance race for statebred females on March 23. Trained by Lisa Lewis, Wickersham was claimed for $20,000 on Feb. 10.

Wickersham returned to finish second in an optional claimer March 9 at a mile on turf, when she was eligible to be claimed for $32,000.

The race has not drawn a strong field. None of the seven entrants has started in a stakes.

Jay Ay makes her second start on the hillside course, having finished fifth in a $32,000 claimer on March 31 in her first start since July.

"She ran okay for the first time down the hill," trainer Barry Abrams said.

Jay Ay is a full sister to Lennyfromalibu, a stakes winner who holds the course record for about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf, 1:11.13. The mark was set in 2004.

High Speed Goldie brings a two-race winning streak into Wednesday's allowance. Trained by Doug O'Neill, High Speed Goldie was winless in four starts on turf before being switched to dirt earlier this year. She won a maiden claimer for sprinters and a one-mile starter allowance in February and early March.