08/19/2008 11:00PM

Green Lyons trying stretchout for Drysdale

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DEL MAR, Calif. - After running third in the Grade 2 Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park, Green Lyons was deemed by trainer Neil Drysdale as good enough to compete in Grade 1 company in her most recent start, the John Mabee Handicap at Del Mar. But whether Green Lyons was good enough for that challenge is still unclear, owing to a subtly difficult trip.

"She was stuck, all the way," said Drysdale, who described Green Lyons's trip in a one-word footnote that Equibase might want to adopt for its charts: "unpleasant."

"She never had a chance to run," Drysdale said.

To try and take the next step forward, Drysdale on Friday at Del Mar will first take a step back with Green Lyons. She is dropping into an overnight stakes, the $80,000 CTT and Thoroughbred Owners of California Handicap for female turf runners. Green Lyons will be stretching out to 1 3/8 miles on turf, a distance Drysdale believes she will appreciate, and she is facing far softer company than in her last two starts. She should be a heavy favorite.

"I've always wanted to try her over a distance of ground," Drysdale said. "This looks like a good spot to try. I've had good luck with other offspring of Green Desert going long on turf in California, like White Heart."

White Heart won Grade 1 races like the Whittingham at Hollywood Park and the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs.

Green Lyons, 4, has won once in five starts since being imported from Europe. In the Mabee, at 1 1/8 miles, she broke a step slowly, then was squeezed between horses and shuffled back to last in the eight-horse field. She loomed menacingly inside horses at the top of the stretch, but never got a clear path until very late.

David Flores, who rode Green Lyons in the Mabee, is back aboard.

The top challenger to Green Lyons figures to be Marzelline. She was fifth in the restricted Osunitas Handicap on July 19, but before that finished only a neck behind Green Lyons in the Beverly Hills.

Marzelline's trainer, Ben Cecil, also will send out High Heel Sneakers, who will be making her second start since being imported from her native Great Britain. High Heel Sneakers was fifth in a second-level allowance race at Hollywood Park on July 6, her first race in 9 1/2 months.

Swiss Current is coming back just five days after finishing fifth of eight in the one-mile Solana Beach Handicap for California-breds. She is winless in five grass races.

Desertstormelite has finished second or third in three straight second-level allowance races.

Hopehopehope, the lone 3-year-old in the field, should be the early leader. She was eighth of 10 in the San Clemente Handicap on July 26, her lone start since defeating maidens at Hollywood Park.