09/14/2013 12:46PM

Finger Lakes: Shades of Sugar taking on older males in Tuesday allowance

Tom Cooley Photography
Shades of Sugar has four wins and a runner-up finish in five career starts.

After easily handling fellow New York-bred fillies in the Niagara Stakes and dominating older female sprinters in an allowance, Shades of Sugar is looking for a new challenge without having to leave her home at Finger Lakes. So, trainer Jonathan Buckley has chosen to allow Shades of Sugar to face older males in Tuesday’s $25,000 feature.

The 3-year-old filly Shades of Sugar, who has delivered four times in five lifetime starts as an odds-on favorite, will clash with five older New York-bred geldings in a six-furlong, third-level allowance.

In her two most recent outings, Shades of Sugar scored by 5 3/4 lengths in the six-furlong Niagara in July and came back six weeks later to cruise by seven lengths in a six-furlong, second-level allowance for statebred fillies and mares. The question now is whether she has sufficient speed to outgun two older males who also prefer to race on the front end.

The 5-year-old Exley was reclaimed by trainer Joe Marino for $10,000 on Aug. 6 and wired a group of $5,000 starter-allowance foes in his first start back in his old barn. Marino originally claimed Exley for $8,000 in July 2012, and the gelding went 2 for 4, including an allowance victory, before he was claimed away for $8,000. Exley has the advantage of breaking from the rail, two slots inside Shades of Sugar, but the filly gets a seven-pound weight break from her male rival.

Seek to Destroy makes his second start following a layoff, an angle that has produced a 5-for-19 record (26 percent) in allowance sprints over the past two seasons for trainer Charlton Baker.

Based on recent half-mile fractions on fast tracks, without taking into account track variants, Exley (45.45 seconds) is marginally faster than Shades of Sugar (45.60) and Seek to Destroy (45.93).

If all three speedsters battle early, it could set things up for Say Mr. Sandman, a 5-year-old gelding who owns a 4-for-7 record at Finger Lakes. Say Mr. Sandman switches from a $10,000 open-company claimer to a restricted allowance for the second start of his form cycle. That trainer angle shows a 5-for-11 (45 percent) record for perennial Finger Lakes leading trainer Chris Englehart over the past two years.

A pace meltdown also would benefit Marino’s second entrant, Fried, who was solid earlier this summer, including an allowance victory, before regressing in his two most recent starts.