02/15/2012 4:33PM

Gulfstream: Lady Rizzi still going strong at 9

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Lady Rizzi may have lost a step or two over the years and is pretty one-dimensional when it comes to her best game, but the 9-year-old mare is still good enough to hold her own against top-caliber competition any time trainer Linda Rice sends her out to run five furlongs over the turf.

Lady Rizzi will make her 35th career start in Friday’s $56,500 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park and will likely be favored to defeat a dozen younger rivals, including her uncoupled stablemate Precision Farming. The second-level optional-claiming race is carded at five furlongs on the grass.

Lazy Rizzi won a stakes at Colonial Downs two years ago. She has already started twice at this meet, having defeated open $50,000 claiming company by 2 1/4 lengths on Dec. 16 before returning five weeks later to finish a wide-running fourth, less than a length behind the pacesetting winner Rose Salvaje, in a race similar to Friday’s main event.

“She’s pretty much a five-furlong turf specialist nowadays,” said Rice, who trains Lady Rizzi for the Vina Del mar Thoroughbreds LLC. “She’s been a lot of fun and very good to us over the years, although there have been times when she flattened out on us and we had to give her time here or there. She may have bounced a little in her last start off that first big effort here this winter, but I think she’ll rebound and run a better race this time.”

Precision Farming is a mere youngster compared to Lady Rizzi. Precision Farming is a 6-year-old Smart Strike mare who has won 5 of just 14 career starts, all for Rice and owner Frederick Jack Liebeau Jr. Precision Farming finished third, 3 1/4 lengths behind her stablemate, when the pair met on Dec. 16.

“She’s had interruptions in her schedule several different times,” Rice said of Precision Farming. “She’s got an outside post, but from what I’ve seen outside posts have done okay over this course, and I’m hoping she’ll bounce back with an even better effort on Friday. Hopefully she’ll be able to regain her better form. If not we’ll just have to drop her back down again.”

The Rice duo could receive their stiffest challenge from Going to Kukaro, a lightly raced but steadily improving Speightstown filly trained by Anthony Dutrow. Going to Kukaro, who has made only four starts, outfinished Lady Rizzi by a head when third behind Rosa Salvaje making her turf debut here five weeks earlier.

Miss Maggie Girl has been a model of consistency for trainer Phil Gleaves and Vegso Racing Stable over the past eight months, since becoming a five-furlong turf specialist. Miss Maggie Girl easily defeated entry-level allowance company going five furlongs in her Calder finale last November before shipping locally to finish a rail-skimming third against open allowance company to close out her 2011 campaign.