03/14/2003 12:00AM

Ivanavinalot hits right spot


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Kathleen O'Connell and owner-breeder Gil Campbell's decision to scratch Ivanavinalot out of an easier spot in Sunday's Grade 3 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs and run her in Friday's $200,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes at Gulfstream Park proved a good choice when Ivanavinalot wore down My Boston Gal for a 1 3/4-length victory in the marquee race for 3-year-old fillies at the meeting.

"We wanted to do what was best for the filly, and in the end Mr. Campbell made the final choice to stay here," said O'Connell. "Both races had their pluses and minuses, and even though the Tampa race would probably have been easier, the fact this has been a speed-favoring track and she didn't have to ship were eventually the deciding factors in Mr. Campbell's decision."

O'Connell had wanted Ivanavinalot to rate off the pace instead of going to the lead when she finished a well-beaten second behind Yell in the Davona Dale Stakes three weeks earlier. She got her wish in the Bonnie Miss when Ivanavinalot's new jockey, John Velazquez, was able to rate her off the early pace of My Boston Gal.

Ivanavinalot tracked My Boston Gal for the opening mile of the nine-furlong Bonnie Miss, wore the leader down near midstretch, and gradually edged clear. My Boston Gal, who stopped badly in the Davona Dale, held on gamely to the end to finish 3 1/4 lengths in front of Holiday Lady in third place. Gold Player, Westerly Breeze, Tarnished Halo, and Spin Control completed the order of finish.

Ivanavinalot paid $4. She ran the distance in 1:50.72 while carrying highweight of 122 pounds under the allowance conditions of the race.

"She likes to go to the lead but she will rate," said O'Connell. "Having the outside post helped because it allowed her to have tactical position and gave Johnny a little more maneuvering power. It looked like she was getting a little late at the end, but it was the first time she's gone a mile-and-an-eighth and she ran only three weeks ago."

O'Connell said no decision has been made regarding Ivanavinalot's next start although she said that the filly is nominated for Keeneland's Grade 1 Ashland Stakes on April 5.

Said Ian Wilkes, assistant to trainer Carl Nafzger: "We were very pleased with My Boston Gal's performance today. She got nothing out of her first race here, and a very good filly beat us."

Midnight Cry wins for absent McPeek

Just as trainer Ken McPeek leaves town, his barn starts to heat up.

Midnight Cry, away from the races since December, rallied from just off the pace to win the Grade 3, $100,000 Stonerside Forward Gal Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths. Final Round, who went to her knees at the start, rallied strongly for second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Chimichurri. Fast Cookie, the 5-2 favorite, finished sixth.

It was the third victory from four starters for the stable since McPeek left for Brazil last weekend. Assistant trainer Helen Pitts saddled the winner.

"She's a much bigger, stronger filly than she was last year," Pitts said. "She filled out and she hasn't missed an oat. Everything comes a lot easier for her now and every breeze she was getting better and better. Her last breeze was phenomenal."

Under Edgar Prado, Midnight Cry sat in fourth position down the backside, as City Fire, Fast Cookie, and Chimichurri dueled up front. Turning for home, Midnight Cry ranged up three wide outside of Fast Cookie and Chimichurri and exploded away inside the eighth pole.

Midnight Cry, a daughter of Smart Strike owned by Barrister Hall Stable, covered seven furlongs in 1:22.55 and returned $11.20.

"She was very aggressive coming out of the gate, but then she settled real well the first part of the race, and I was very confident where I was," Prado said. "When I pulled her out she responded."

Midnight Cry will make her next start in the Stonerside Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland on April 10.

Final Round may have been best in the race as she spotted the field several lengths after stumbling at the start under Pat Day. She rallied stoutly to be second and galloped out past the winner.

"Luckily, she did not hurt herself, her front feet just broke out from underneath her," trainer Rusty Arnold said. "She wants to go on; we know that. I think she's an improving horse."

- Additional reporting by David Grening