06/09/2005 11:00PM

Forestier catches a break


The likely absence of heavy favorite Sensibly Chic has turned Sunday's $50,000 Skipat Stakes into a wide-open event.

The six-furlong Skipat, for fillies and mares, serves as the closing day feature at Pimlico. Racing on the Maryland-Virginia circuit shifts to Colonial Downs on Friday.

is cross-entered in Sunday's Grade 2, $150,000 Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont. Maryland-based rainer Tim Tullock said Friday afternoon that he's leaning strongly toward the New York race.

, trained by Todd Pletcher, is now likely to inherit the role of favorite. She may have been used up chasing fractions of 21.42 seconds and 43.95 for the first half-mile in the Grade 2 Genuine Risk Handicap at Belmont in her most recent start. The pace isn't likely to be nearly so swift in the Skipat.

Given more reasonable fractions, Forestier is likely to run much better in this spot. She won her previous two starts with improving Beyers of 91 and 102.

Francisco Jara will be aboard for the first time.

Although Forestier is a Maryland-bred and owned by Alan Kline of Maryland, she has raced in her home state only three times. Her efforts include a pair of seconds in stakes at Laurel Park last winter.

"She's been training well," said Pletcher. "This looks like a good spot to get her a stakes win. Fernando Jara is a talented young rider. He asked to ride this filly when she went out of town, so we're giving him that chance."

should ensure that Forestier doesn't get away with an easy lead. A 5-year-old trained by Mark Shuman, Spring Rush has won two of her last three starts, both in wire-to-wire fashion.

The sleeper in the field, if the pace is hot and contested, could be Chrusciki. Although she has raced almost exclusively at one mile or longer, Chrusciki has been in front at the six-furlong call in two of her last three starts and is 4 for 9 lifetime over Pimlico's main track.