10/08/2008 11:00PM

Lavender Sky back on home course


ARCADIA, Calif. – Lavender Sky wanted little to do with a trip from Santa Anita to Golden Gate Fields for the Miss America Stakes last month.

“She didn’t ship well,” trainer Dan Hendricks said. “It wasn’t a good trip and she still only got beat two lengths, so that was encouraging.”

A start on her home circuit in Friday’s seventh race at Santa Anita, a $52,000 allowance race over 1 1/8 miles on turf, may end a five-race losing streak for Lavender Sky. Hendricks is hoping that a local start will help the 4-year-old filly, who has placed in three graded stakes this year.

A winner of 2 of 15 starts and $191,740, Lavender Sky had a disappointing string of results through the spring and summer. After finishing third as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade 2 Santa Ana Handicap here in March, her best result over her next four starts was a fourth in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes at Hollywood Park in May. In the Miss America Stakes, also at 1 1/8 miles on turf, Lavender Sky closed from seventh to finish fifth, 2 3/4 lengths behind winner Wild Promises.

“She got worked up saddling,” Hendricks said.

Hendricks said the main objective in the coming months with Lavender Sky is to “make her a stakes winner.”

Friday’s race has drawn only five runners. Lavender Sky, with 2008 earnings of $101,340, is the only member of the field to have earned six figures this year.

Lavender Sky will be chasing Forest Melody, who was ninth in the Grade 2 Palomar Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 30. Lavender Sky and Forest Melody finished one-two in an optional claimer here last February, which is Lavender Sky’s most recent win. Forest Melody returned to win an allowance race here over 1 1/8 miles on turf on March 1.

Christmas Ship, Elle Pickle, and Opal Haze are the other runners in the field. Elle Pickle and Opal Haze have yet to win in this country.

Christmas Ship, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, was second in the Washington Oaks over 1 1/8 miles on the dirt at Emerald Downs on Aug. 16. She beat maidens on turf at Golden Gate Fields last year.

“She’s been on the lead and come from just off of it,” said Dan Ward, Hollendorfer’s assistant. “The track is good for speed.”