03/23/2011 3:24PM

Gulfstream: Hot pace could give Mia's Angel an ideal setup in allowance feature

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Pace handicappers will have little trouble settling on their choice in Friday’s $59,300 feature at Gulfstream Park. With all the speed signed on for the six-furlong, second-level optional $62,500 claimer, the clear pick is Mia’s Angel, a late-running and vastly improved colt who should benefit from what on paper, at least, figures to be a hot and contested pace.

Mia’s Angel was purchased privately by his present connections as a 2-year-old during the summer of 2009 and didn’t pan out until transferred to trainer Steve DiMauro’s barn last fall. After finishing sixth in a five-furlong turf race to launch his comeback in early December, Mia’s Angel has posted a win and two seconds in three subsequent starts, including a one-length victory over recent allowance winner De Price going seven furlongs, earning for a career-best 95 Beyer Speed Figure.

Mia’s Angel proved that performance was not a fluke when he returned five weeks later to finish a late-striding second behind the odds-on favorite Safe Trip trying second-level optional claimers for the first time earlier this month.

“His last couple of races were solid,” said DiMauro, who trains Mia’s Angel for Half Hollow Racing. “He had some incidents in his first couple of starts after being purchased at 2 and some physical issues for which he got some time off last season. He just ran into a monster last time. I think he prefers 6 1/2 or seven furlongs, but it looks like there’s some pace in there Friday and I think he should be able to sit a stalking trip or a little further back. Hopefully, things will set up for him.”

Candyman E has won his last two starts and will likely go off as the favorite for trainer Michael Moreina but like so many of the others in this lineup, he has done his best when on the lead. A son of Candy Ride, Candyman E withstood early pace pressure to win his maiden over next- time graduate Wear the Crown to open the season on Jan. 8 before returning to outgame the previous undefeated Savemyspotimbetting to capture his entry-level allowance condition six weeks later.

Candyman E figures to have his hands full early with Ask Joe, Hear Ye Hear Ye, and Dagnabit.

Ask Joe finished third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Mia’s Angel, when the pair met three weeks ago and could benefit from the turn back to six furlongs, a distance at which he has registered six of his seven career victories.

Hear Ye Hear Ye went against the grain of the track bias when he dropped to this level from the Grade 1 Donn Handicap and se a contested pace before fading to be fourth, another head behind Ask Joe, while turning back to a sprint off a steady diet of longer races and could be the sleeper in this spot.