06/05/2008 12:00AM

Female sprinters clash at Pimlico

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Now It Begins and Clay's Angel are the two most intriguing horses in a field of 10 older female sprinters in the $50,000 Whimsical, the last stakes of Pimlico's spring meet. Saturday is closing day at the Maryland track.

Under the conditions of the six-furlong race, restricted to nonwinners of an open stakes the past two seasons, the 4-year-old Now It Begins is barely eligible. She missed by a head in the 2007 Smart Halo at Laurel.

The Whimsical marks Now It Begins's first start since she bolted after surrendering the lead in the Conniver at Laurel in mid-March. She has fired fresh from an extended layoff in the past and comes from the high-percentage barn of Mike Trombetta.

Clay's Angel was the beaten favorite in an overnight stakes at Delaware Park a month ago. The horse who finished directly ahead of her, Akronism, returned to win the $70,000 Skipat with a 91 Beyer Speed Figure on the Preakness undercard.