01/28/2009 1:00AM

La Poli won't be overlooked in this spot


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - La Poli has been full of surprises. A $10,000 claim, she has since become an allowance winner for owner William Spaeth and trainer Allen Milligan. And, in her most recent start, she nearly pulled a 55-1 upset.

Friday at Oaklawn Park, La Poli won't have to face French Kiss, the horse who defeated her by a head on Jan. 16, when she runs in the second race, a second-level optional $40,000 claimer at 1 1/16 miles.

The race is one of two high-end offerings for fillies and mares on the card. The other is the eighth, a $75,000 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles. Both races could produce starters for the $50,000 Pippin Stakes here Feb. 14.

La Poli was claimed last May and proceeded to win three straight races, all on turf, while ascending the class ladder at Lone Star Park. She made her Oaklawn debut in her last start at the same optional claiming level and distance as Friday's race.

"I'm glad she's taking to the dirt at Oaklawn," Milligan said. "She made most of her money on the turf.

"She ran super last time. I know it's quick back to run her in 13 days, and that's my only concern. She's doing great. She bounced out of that race super, and that's the only reason I considered doing it."

La Poli will face six others, among them Foam, who has won five of her last six starts. Martin Escobar has the mount on La Poli, a half-sister to Devious Course, winner of the Grade 1 Cigar Mile in 2007.

In the eighth, Lindsey's Wish will be returning to dirt, where she is a stakes winner, after finishing a close fourth in an $80,000 optional claimer on turf at Churchill Downs in November.

"She ran a really good race, it was just a little too far for her," said Kelly Von Hemel, who trains Lindsey's Wish. "It was a mile and an eighth on the grass and she was in front all the way, and they collared her turning for home and she only got beat a length."

The chief threat might be Comely Grace, who in her last start was second by three-quarters of a length in the $50,000 Lady's Secret at Remington Park on Nov. 16.