01/25/2007 12:00AM

Jerkens pair would prefer longer


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - If trainer Allen Jerkens had his druthers, the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint would be a little longer than six furlongs. But Jerkens has certainly overcome far more formidable obstacles during his Hall of Fame career, so it may not be wise to overlook the chances of either of his entrants, Swap Fliparoo and Grecian Lover, in arguably the most competitive of the four Sunshine Millions races to be decided at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.

Swap Fliparoo may actually go off the slight favorite in the 14-horse field despite the fact she has not won in her five starts at six furlongs. What the 4-year-old Swap Fliparoo did accomplish last season was to capture the Grade 1, seven-furlong Test Stakes at Saratoga, rallying from last in a big field to win by two widening lengths.

A Hobeau Farm homebred, Swap Fliparoo could not do any better than third in three subsequent starts following her triumph in the Test. She closed out her campaign finishing third after encountering early trouble in the Grade 2 First Flight Handicap.

"She grabbed herself horribly in her last start, and it took us a while to heal her up," said Jerkens. "Six furlongs is a little shorter than she really prefers, but I'm hoping because she's fresh maybe she'll make it."

Jerkens also admitted six furlongs is a little short for Grecian Lover, who is also winless at the distance. She comes off a game second-place finish in the seven-furlong Chaposa Springs Handicap at Calder on Dec. 30.

"She is what she is, but for that much money why not take a shot?" said Jerkens. "With a little racing luck maybe she'll have a chance."

The pace scenario should be favorable for both Swap Fliparoo and Grecian Lover, with plenty of speed signed on for the Filly and Mare Sprint. The quickest of the group may be California invader Shaggy Mane and the lightly raced May Day Vow.

Shaggy Mane reeled off five straight easy, wire-to-wire victories against lesser competition in northern California, but could not carry her abundant speed 7 1/2 furlongs in her final start at 3 last year, when she finished a tiring fifth in the Cat's Cradle Handicap at Hollywood Park.

May Day Vow has won four times, all in front-running fashion, posting a career-best 103 Beyer when she closed out her 2006 campaign with a win in the Top Secret Stakes at Aqueduct. Among her victims that afternoon was the Jerkens-trained Any Limit, who came back to capture the Grade 3 First Lady Handicap here last weekend. May Day Vow's chances may have been slightly compromised when she drew post 14 for the Filly and Mare Sprint.

Hot Storm is the defending champ in this event, having led throughout to win the 2006 edition at Santa Anita by 1 3/4 lengths. The 5-year-old Hot Storm also captured the Sunshine Millions Oaks two years ago. Trained by Dallas Stewart, Hot Storm is winless in her last five starts and also fared poorly at the post position draw. She will break just inside May Day Vow from post 13.