01/02/2009 12:00AM

Jibboom in right spot to flaunt talent


ARCADIA, Calif. - One morning last summer at Saratoga, a gray filly came galloping past the clubhouse turn on the Oklahoma training track. Trainer Bobby Frankel pointed at the filly and said, "That's my next Ginger Punch."

At the time, the filly, Jibboom, was only days away from her first start in nine months. In four starts since then, Jibboom has yet to fulfill those high expectations. Jibboom won just once in those four starts, her lone victory coming in a second-level allowance race after she failed to handle Grade 1 company in the Ballerina and Spinster stakes.

But Frankel believes he has found the right surface and style for Jibboom. He thinks she prefers turf, and after being forwardly placed in the Ballerina and Spinster, she is best making one run, Frankel said.

"She's probably better as a come-from-behind sprinter," Frankel said.

If Frankel is right, then Jibboom should be able to show her best form Saturday at Santa Anita in the Grade 3, $100,000 Monrovia Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course. Jibboom has yet to come down the hill, but she has a first and second in two prior grass sprints and has never finished worse than second in five turf races.

A full field of 12 older fillies and mares entered the Monrovia, and the spread of the weights, ranging from 118 pounds to 113, reflects the competitiveness of the race.

The highweights are Lethal Heat, who has not raced since finishing third in the Del Mar Oaks, and Society Hostess, who won this race two years ago but has raced just four times since.

Lethal Heat won the first two starts of her career on this hillside turf course, so she is returning to her roots. Now 4, this will be her first start against older fillies and mares.

Society Hostess, 7, won the Monrovia with a breathtaking late run on New Year's Day 2007. She is winless in four starts since then and was disqualified and placed fifth in last year's Monrovia after crossing the wire second. This could be her last race.

"We go race by race with her. If she does well, she might run once more," trainer Christophe Clement said. "She's getting old. She is not the soundest filly. She's a difficult filly to train. She ties up. But she's been training very well."

La Tee was second in the Ken Maddy on this course during the fall Oak Tree meeting, then was overmatched in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. She won a race on the hillside course last year.

Contentious is turning back to a sprint after a promising second in a second-level allowance going long on the turf Dec. 3. That was her first start since June and her first start since moving to the barn of trainer Eoin Harty.

Ransom Captive and Trouble Maker also have past races good enough to be serious factors here.