09/19/2006 12:00AM

Khalila getting turf tryout


ELMONT, N.Y. -- Conditions permitting, Thursday's featured Graceful Darby is scheduled for the Widener turf at Belmont Park, but the overnight event for 3-year-old fillies will still be a tough race if it is switched to the main track.

The seven-furlong, $65,000 Graceful Darby, for nonwinners of an open stakes on turf, attracted a full field of 14 that includes the Bobby Frankel-trained entry of Citronnade and Sugar Swirl, and two entered for dirt only -- Any Limit, who won three in a row at Belmont's spring meet, and Carriage Trail, whose only start on dirt was a fast win in an off-the-turf allowance at Saratoga.

Others in the main body of the race whose connections wouldn't mind a surface switch include Original Spin, who led to deep stretch of the Grade 1 Test Stakes two starts back; Better Now, who won the Grade 3 Tempted Stakes here last fall; and the Shadwell Stable-owned Khalila, who may be the most interesting filly in the race.

Though Kiaran McLaughlin will run Khalila if the race switches to dirt, he is looking to find out whether her true calling is on the grass. Her sire, Elusive Quality, set a North American record for a mile on turf (since eclipsed) winning the 1998 Poker Handicap in 1:31.63 on the Widener course, and half-sister Galloping Gal was a graded stakes winner of $248,000 on turf.

"We have not worked her on it, but the distance is right," said McLaughlin. "And we better find out before it's too late if she's a really good grass filly."

Khalila has already shown considerable ability on dirt, including a 10-length allowance win here May 14, when she ran with only three shoes and raced for purse money only. Two of her four losses since then have come in graded stakes: a good fourth against older mares in the Genuine Risk Breeders' Cup and a very wide trip rallying for third in the Victory Ride at Saratoga.

"She was in the eight path throughout, it was pretty aggravating," McLaughlin recalled of the Victory Ride.

Khalila will break from the rail and get a rider switch to Fernando Jara, who has ridden Jazil and Invasor to major stakes victories for Shadwell this season.

Only four fillies in the field -- Ok to Pay, Miracle Moment, Zaynab and Cuaba -- have won on turf.

Somethinaboutbetty is 0 for 4 on turf but has been second in three stakes, including the Grade 3 Lake George, in which she was run down in deep stretch by stablemate and subsequent Grade 1 winner Magnificent Song.