06/22/2010 11:00PM

Distance, pace may limit Whistle Pig


Whistle Pig will try for his third win in the $75,000 Leemat Stakes at Presque Isle Downs when a field of six Pennsylvania-bred horses go to the post Friday evening. Trained by Andrew Carter, Whistle Pig has been the model of consistency at Presque Isle, winning 6 of 8 starts with a second and a third. He has collected more than a third of his $730,000 lifetime earnings at the track.

Friday's card also includes the $75,000 Northern Fling, a six-furlong sprint for Pennsylvania-bred fillies and mares.

Whistle Pig, 6, won 2 of 4 starts last season, including the Presidential Affair and Leemat at Presque Isle Downs.

This season, Whistle Pig looks to be rounding into top form. In his first out of the year on May 8 at Philadelphia Park, Whistle Pig finished third in the seven-furlong, $75,000 Lyman Handicap for Pennsylvania-bred horses. In his last out May 28, he finished second in the $60,000 Changing Times at Penn National. That event was carded at six furlongs, the same distance as this year's Leemat. The three previous runnings of Leemat Stakes were at 6 1/2 furlongs.

The shorter distance and lack of early speed could compromise the chances of the late-running Whistle Pig. Dale Beckner retains the mount for trainer Andrew Carter.

Northern Fling: Ariana D. back

Like Whistle Pig, Ariana D. likes the Presque Isle surface, which should work to her advantage in the Northern Fling.

Trained by Merrill Scherer, Ariana D. has a 3-2-2 record from 8 Presque Isle starts. She has been out only once this season, including a third in an open six-furlong allowance event on May 25 at Presque Isle. Her 86 Beyer Figure from that race is higher than the lifetime Beyer Speed Figures of all but one of her five foes, Sky Haven. Harry Vega retains the mount.

Sky Haven returns to the races off a four-month layoff. Trained by Bruce Levine, Sky Haven should enjoy a return to the Pennsylvania-bred ranks. Her most recent victory came last season in the Caught in the Rain at Philadelphia Park on July 18 against statebred company. The 4-year-old Sky Mesa Filly has won 2 of her 3 starts over the Presque Isle surface, including the $100,000 Presque Isle Downs Debutante in 2008. Sky Haven was previously trained by Steve Asmussen. Daniel Centeno will ride for the first time.