09/14/2004 11:00PM

Division leader may emerge from sprint


MIAMI - The local filly and mare sprint division has featured more than its share of top-class performers over the past several years. Chaposa Springs, U Can Do It, and Princess Pietrina successfully defended their home turf with victories in the Grade 2 Princess Rooney Handicap, the most prestigious filly and mare dash on the local stakes schedule, while Sugar N Spice, Chispiski, and Fly Me Crazy all won their share of important races during the same period.

But this summer, the division has lacked a standout performer. Mary Murphy was the early leader and only local runner to compete in the Princess Rooney, where she was outclassed by the likes of Ema Bovary, Bear Fan, and Lady Tak. The Princess Rooney took a toll on Mary Murphy, who has not started since.

With Mary Murphy sidelined, the filly and mare sprint division became so wide open that each of the last five overnight stakes sprints for fillies and mares here since June 14 has been won by a different horse. Three of those mares - Sea Span, Tchula Miss, and Petrina Above - are among the 10 entrants for Saturday's $75,000 U Can Do It Handicap.

Petrina Above would be the most unlikely of heroines in the 6 1/2-furlong U Can Do It. A daughter of Great Above, Petrina Above is the senior citizen of the division, still going strong at age 9. Widely regarded as more of a five-furlong turf specialist, especially in her later years, she dispelled that notion with an easy 3 3/4-length triumph in the Barbs Dancer Stakes earlier in the meet.

Petrina Above is trained by Frank Carlisi for owner-breeder Alfred Luccarelli. Carlisi also guided the fortunes of Princess Pietrina, a three-time stakes winner whose crowning moment was a last-to-first victory by a nose over Hurricane Bertie in the 1999 Princess Rooney.

In the U Can Do It, Petrina Above will need to bounce back from her worst performance in recent memory, when she finished ninth behind Tchula Miss and Sea Span over a sloppy track in the Golden Or Stakes on Aug. 29.

Nominations close Saturday for two preps

Nominations for the $100,000 Foolish Pleasure and Brave Raj stakes close on Saturday. The Foolish Pleasure and Brave Raj, the traditional two-turn preps for the In Reality and My Dear Girl divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes, will be run Oct. 2.

The field for last year's renewal of the Foolish Pleasure was one of the classiest in the race's 23-year history, with Stolen Time defeating Second of June and Imperialism. Second of June opened his 3-year-old campaign by winning the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes and finishing second in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth before an injury brought his season to a premature end. Imperialism was sold privately and finished third in the Kentucky Derby, while Stolen Time recently finished third in Monmouth Park's Lamplighter Stakes.