05/18/2005 12:00AM

Maddalena faces front-end threat from Missile Bay


BALTIMORE - The speedy Maddalena showed a new dimension by coming from off the pace when she won the Legal Light Stakes last month at Delaware Park. But it wasn't by design.

"She didn't break very well, so that's just the way it unfolded," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "But it was nice to see her win from off the pace."

Maddalena can ill afford any mistakes Friday when she meets several tougher rivals in the Grade 3, $100,000 Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. Nine 3-year-old fillies were entered for the six-furlong race, which starts an all-stakes pick four with a guaranteed pool of $200,000.

, a daughter of Good and Tough, has won 5 of 6 starts, including the Grade 3 Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream. In her lone defeat, a fifth-place finish in the Forward Gal, Maddalena broke slowly, rushed up into hot fractions, and tired to fifth. John Velazquez will ride Maddalena from post 3 under co-high weight of 122 pounds.

If Maddalena doesn't break well Friday, she could find herself behind , the speedy Scott Lake-trained filly who won the Xtra Heat here on April 30.

Stalkers such as Hot Storm and Burnish could benefit from a contested pace between Missile Bay and Maddalena.

, trained by Dallas Stewart, pressed the pace and finished third in the La Troienne at Churchill on May 5. That race was at 7 1/2 furlongs. In the Miss Preakness, she is cutting back to six furlongs, a distance at which she won the Sunshine Millions Oaks in January.

"I like that distance for her, I really do," said Stewart, who has Jerry Bailey to ride. "She ran great the other day, it was just a little too far."

Burnish could be the horse to beat for trainer Nick Zito. She romped in a second-level allowance race in the slop and is 2 for 3 at six furlongs.

Hear Us Roar, who is 3 for 4 at Pimlico, cuts back to six furlongs and has been working bullets for locally based trainer Francis Campitelli. Miss Lombardi, Flowerbud, Loch Nessie, and Partners Due complete the field.