01/10/2009 1:00AM

Ginger Brew returns to grass


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Last winter, trainer Brian Lynch dominated the filly and mare sprint division at Gulfstream Park with Sugar Swirl. This year, he will try to emulate that success with Ginger Brew, who kicks off her 2009 campaign as the one to beat in Sunday's $100,000 Marshua's River on the turf.

Unlike Sugar Swirl, who swept all three graded sprint stakes for fillies and mares here in 2008, Ginger Brew is a versatile sort capable of handling turf and dirt with equal aplomb. She began what may be recognized as a Sovereign Award-winning 3-year-old campaign last year in south Florida, posting a first-level allowance victory over the Gulfstream turf before heading across town to capture the Calder Oaks.

Ginger Brew built on that success once she returned to her native Canada, switching to Polytrack to capture the Woodbine Oaks as a prelude to her second-place finish against males in the Queen's Plate. She made just one more start at 3, posting an easy win in the seven-furlong Jammed Lovely on Polytrack in November at Woodbine.

"The Queen's Plate was a hard race so I wanted to give her a good break," said Lynch, who trains the homebred daughter of Milwaukee Brew for Frank Stronach. "She's doing fine and we have a lot of options here this winter on grass although we could switch her back to dirt for the Rampart at the end of the meet."

Lynch said Ginger Brew couldn't be coming into the 1 1/16-mile Marshua's River any better.

"The main concern in a race like this with a big field is traffic trouble," said Lynch. "But if she relaxes and gets in good position she'll be right there."

The Marshua's River lured a full field of 14, among them the Todd Pletcher-trained duo of Sea Chanter and Audacious Chloe. Sea Chanter, winner of the Grade 3 Miesque at 2, started just five times last season, closing out the year finishing a troubled seventh in the Grade 3 My Charmer at Calder.

Audacious Chloe was a disappointment in 2008 when she went winless in five starts after posting three stakes wins the previous year.

American Border won three straight races to close out her 2008 campaign, including the Grade 3 Violet at the Meadowlands.

Mushka, 4, was a Grade 2 winner on dirt at 2 and an impressive allowance winner on turf in her last start at 3.