05/26/2004 11:00PM

Indiana Downs track report


Tee's Pearl heads a field of 10 Indiana-bred 3-year-old fillies in the $40,000 First Lady Stakes. The First Lady will be the first stakes run over Indiana Downs's new turf course.

In the First Lady, a 7 1/2-furlong race, only Tee's Pearl has ever started on grass and most of the starters have little or no grass pedigree to speak of.

Based on her form on the dirt, Tee's Pearl is strictly the one to beat. A daughter of Lil E. Tee, she captured the City of Anderson Stakes against statebreds at Hoosier Park last October on her way to a 2-1-2 record from eight starts as a juvenile for trainer Charles Walcott.

When Tee's Pearl returned to the races in February at Oaklawn, Lynn Whiting had taken over her training and she has seemed a much- improved horse in four starts this year. She scored a 7 3/4-length win against allowance company Feb. 22 and followed that with a 3 1/4-length front-running score in the Instant Racing Breeders' Cup. Both wins came at Oaklawn Park.

In her most recent start, as well as her only career try on grass, Tee's Pearl faded to finish 10th after showing early speed in the Edgewood at Churchill Downs on April 30. The return to statebred competition figures to make Tee's Pearl tough to beat on Saturday. Rafael Bejarano will be in from Kentucky to ride. Tee's Pearl will start as the 120-pound co-highweight under the allowance conditions of the First Lady.

Carbonera is a possible upsetter. She made her career debut here only eight days ago, and scored an easy 10-length victory over statebred maiden special weight company at 15-1 for trainer Bob Zahl. Joe Stokes has a return call aboard Carbonera, who gets in light at 111 pounds.

Victory Punch is the only other stakes winner in the First Lady, by virtue of a victory in the Terre Haute last November at Hoosier Park. Zahl also trains Victory Punch, who has been disappointing in 2004, finishing off the board against allowance company here in both of her starts.