04/04/2002 12:00AM

Is that a flaw in favorite's armor?

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Bettors are clearly in love with Kimbralata. In six of her last 10 races, Kimbralata, a 4-year-old filly sprinter, has gone off at 2-1 or less, including four times as the favorite.

Kimbralata, who has been no worse than second in seven of her nine lifetime starts at six furlongs, figures to be a short price again Saturday in the $50,000 Primonetta, a six-furlong stakes at Pimlico that attracted a field of six fillies and mares.

Based on Beyer Speed Figures, Kimbralata, one of two uncoupled entries from trainer Dale Capuano's barn, appears formidable. Dating back to last November, when she won the Stefanita at Laurel Park, Kimbralata has been a model of consistency, earning Beyers between 90 and 94 in four of her last five races. Within the same time span, her opponents have collectively managed to hit 90 just once.

Despite her decisive edge on the Beyer scale and a win in her most recent start that confirms her good form, there may be a flaw in Kimbralata's armor. She prefers to sit four or five lengths off the lead and make a bold move during the stretch run.

In a short field that lacks substantial speed, there's a danger Kimbralata may not have sufficient pace to make her usual big late run.

Of the two horses who show an ability to flash early speed, neither Arianna's Passion nor Lip Sing's Affair appear fast enough to get locked into a blistering speed duel.

Arianna's Passion, trained by Philadelphia Park-based Walter Reese, was running in the low 90's as a 3-year-old last summer and early fall. But her Beyers steadily declined during three straight starts in December and January. Freshened since then, Arianna's Passion may be primed to show her best speed, based on a recent best-of-25 five-furlong bullet of 59.20 seconds at Philadelphia Park.

Lip Sing's Affair, a 6-year-old mare with 10 career wins and more than $260,000 in earnings, will likely be sent from the gate by jockey Jeremy Rose, last year's Eclipse Award-winning apprentice. Lip Sing's Affair was good enough to finish a nose behind Kimbralata in a six-furlong optional claiming race last December, but was decisively beaten by her in two stakes appearances.

If the pace is indeed tepid early, it's possible jockey Travis Dunkelberger, riding Kimbralata for the first time since last October, will leave nothing to chance and ask his mount for more early speed than usual. Under Dunkelberger, Kimbralata abandoned her usual tactics to go wire to wire in last year's Ms Preakness Stakes.

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