02/29/2008 1:00AM

Familiar foes meet again in allowance

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Written in Stone outfinished Panel by a head for second the last time they met, and it looks as though both will again be closing when they meet in Sunday's feature race, a first-level allowance carded at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf.

Last time out, the pair finished second and third in a field of 11, and this time they'll be part of a full field of 12, with plenty of competitive-looking horses.

Written in Stone has been stuck at this allowance level for his past four races, turning in good efforts when trainer Mark Frostad has tried him in sprints.

In his last race, Feb. 11, Written in Stone came from six lengths back to get up for second, three-quarters of a length behind The Great Caruso.

Trainer Mark Frostad anticipates he will come from off the pace again.

"He doesn't have that 21 quarter, 44 half speed anyway," Frostad said. "And Panel is not a walkover, especially if he gets a clean trip and we don't."

Written in Stone has worked once since his last race, turning in a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.80 on Feb. 25. He is a full brother to Strike Softly, who won more than $700,000 in her career.

Panel has been right there in his two races at this distance and condition, including his last, when Written in Stone got up to beat him a head just before the wire.

"He's a tryer," trainer Al Stall said. "He'll be there at the end."

Two races ago, he was badly beaten when he made his lone attempt on the main track.

Also coming from off the pace will be Tempo Five, who is a perfect 3 for 3. He'll be looking to stretch his streak, but his victories have come against claiming company on the main track.

With those three breaking from the first three post positions, the pacesetters will be able to get over to the rail.

There seem to be plenty of horses capable of setting the pace, including Winchester Bay and Essence of Gold.

Winchester Bay has been running in route races. He has been forwardly placed in those efforts and unable to hold on late, going without a victory in his last eight races.

Essence of Gold wired the field to win his maiden six races ago. He has tried that same tactic since then, to no avail, tiring in each of his last five races.