06/25/2007 11:00PM

Evil Bear a rematch of top four from Caress


ELMONT, N.Y. - Turf sprints are in vogue in New York, where Thursday's feature is the $65,000 Evil Bear Stakes for older fillies and mares, scheduled for six furlongs on the inner course.

The Evil Bear drew six entrants, plus one for the main track only. Among the six meant for turf are the top four finishers from the recent Caress Stakes - Brushed Bayou, Queen Amira, Runaway Cat, and Lemon Drop Gal.

The pace should be fast due to the presence of Just Starting, an 11-time winner on dirt who has led at the pace call in all five starts since adding blinkers. The question is whether she can handle the surface switch and a rise in class all at once.

Also in the race is Somethinaboutbetty, who shortens up after weakening late in stakes routes at Calder and Monmouth Park. She has never won on turf, but not for lack of trying. She ran second in four grass stakes last year and each time had the lead in the stretch, including a heartbreaking defeat to stablemate Magnificent Song in the Grade 3 Lake George and a neck loss to Citronnade - currently the top grass filly in California after four straight wins - in the Graceful Darby.

"We're trying to find the right niche for her," said her trainer, Todd Pletcher. "She's quirky to ride. She doesn't like the whip, and it seems a mile and a sixteenth sometimes is just a little far. Hopefully, she can kick on a little better. She's run some good races against good competition, so we feel like she's got one in her."

Brushed Bayou got a good stalking trip to win the Caress - her third win from five starts this year - and now picks up considerable weight. She carries 123, giving everyone else five pounds.

Lemon Drop Gal, a 5-year-old with just 11 starts, ran fourth as the even-money choice in the Caress, her first start in more than six months.

"I thought she was going to be a little closer to the pace, and then she hung pretty good," said trainer Jimmy Jerkens. "She's always been funny. I've never been able to get a handle on her. She's pretty lazy in the morning but seems to run her best when she doesn't work that fast."

The firmer the better for Lemon Drop Gal, whose two turf sprints on firm ground last year produced an overnight stakes win with a Beyer Speed Figure of 96, followed by a neck loss with a 97 Beyer.