05/19/2009 11:00PM

Kurbat looks like life of the party

Email

Philadelphia Park will kick off the Memorial Day holiday weekend with a special card that begins at 4 p.m. Eastern.

Friday's program of eight races, spaced 30 minutes apart with the last race set for 7:30 p.m., makes up for one of two days lost due to poor weather last winter. The Bensalem, Pa., track will hold a second Friday twilight card on July 3.

In keeping with the unofficial start to summer, outdoor festivities in the park's picnic grove will have a beach party theme, hosted by popular Philadelphia radio personality John DeBella of WMGK. There will be a beach volleyball court set up in the picnic grove with giveaways and beach party prize packs awarded throughout the day.

The featured sixth race, a $75,000 overnight stakes, is nicknamed "De DeBella De Derby" and drew a field of five older horses going a mile and 70 yards.

The probable favorite is Kurbat, a 5-year-old Chilean import trained by Graham Motion. Kurbat easily won his United States debut in February at Laurel Park, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 100, then lost all chance when he stumbled badly at the start of the Grade 3 Excelsior Handicap at Aqueduct.

Last time out, Kurbat made a big move to go from 13 lengths behind to take the lead in the $100,000 Ft. Harrod on Keeneland's Polytrack before weakening in the stretch of the 1 5/8-mile race to finish a distant second.

Jake's Bandaid, one of the hottest horses on the grounds, and the much-improved Maryland shipper Jen's Revenge pose the stiffest challenge to the favorite.

Jake's Bandaid, claimed out of a $10,000 conditioned race last fall, has won four of his last six starts for trainer Mark Fusco. He missed by a neck last time out in a $50,000 optional claimer at Delaware Park.

Jen's Revenge has gotten good for trainer Scott Lake, who claimed the 4-year-old gelding for $35,000 last December. In five starts for Lake, Jen's Revenge has two wins and three seconds. A front-runner, he opened up a big lead over a sloppy track at Pimlico and turned back a challenge to defeat third-level optional $32,000 claimers earlier this month.