04/19/2012 2:58PM

Hawthorne: Arena Elvira seeks sixth straight in Sixty Sails

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Arena Elvira, the probable favorite for the Sixty Sails, has not lost a race since June 2011.

STICKNEY, Ill. – With horses such as Havre de Grace, Awesome Maria, Awesome Feather, Royal Delta, Plum Pretty, and It’s Tricky sitting at atop the division, it’s no wonder the Sixty Sails Handicap on Saturday at Hawthorne came up with an appealing cast of entrants. The race is a Grade 3 with a solid $200,000 purse, a good spot for mares who would be hard-pressed to break into the upper echelon.

Arena Elvira might not be top-class, but she has been unbeatable since June 2011 and carries a five-race winning streak into the Sixty Sails, where she’s the likely favorite for owner Carolyn Wilson, trainer Bill Mott, and jockey Jose Lezcano.

Arena Elvira was produced by the mare Two Item Limit, a hard-hitting Illinois-bred who shipped into Chicago for three races during her career. Daughter seems a couple notches better than mother. Arena Elvira’s winning streak began with two minor stakes races last fall at Saratoga, ran through a romping victory in the Grade 3 Turnback The Alarm – her first graded stakes – and barely was preserved with a neck victory last November in the Grade 2 Falls City and a head win March 17 in the $50,000 Wayward Lass at Tampa Bay Downs, her season’s debut. In the Falls City, Arena Elvira had to rally into a slow pace to win, and Mott wonders if she was at her best racing over the Tampa surface for the first time last month.

“She was pretty well cranked up but seemed to struggle with that track a little bit,” Mott said. “That’s not the easiest track to run over.”

Arena Elvira carries 122 pounds Saturday, at least six more than her rivals, but she should have a solid pace at which to run, and will be racing over her favored 1 1/8-mile distance, where she has 4 wins and a second from 5 starts.

“She’s become quite effective at a mile and an eighth, so we keep searching for those races,” said Mott.

Afleeting Lady checked in a close second to Arena Elvira in the Falls City, but the Sixty Sails will be her first start since that career-best performance. Todd Pletcher, who has won three of the last six editions of the Sixty Sails, sends in Love and Pride, but that filly’s best game is speed, and Juanita, if not others, figure to go with her on the front end.

That might leave Beloveda as the horse Arena Elvira has to beat. A $10,000 claimer last September, Beloveda was privately sold twice in the last six months and has made her last three starts for owner Farnsworth Stables and trainer Marty Wolfson. She scored easy wins over lesser foes at Gulfstream in her first two starts for Wolfson, then ran a good race to finish second to Awesome Maria in the March 31 Rampart there.

“Her race in the Rampart was better than it looked,” Wolfson said. “Awesome Maria wasn’t under wraps to beat her.”

Wolfson thinks 1 1/8 miles also is Beloveda’s best distance, and said Beloveda breezed strongly when turning in a bullet half-mile April 15 at Calder. But whether all the potential positives are enough to end Arena Elvira’s streak remains to be seen.