01/26/2011 2:33PM

Makoma looks to rebound in second try against winners

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ARCADIA, Calif. – The excitement that followed Makoma’s maiden race win at Hollywood Park in October was diminished to an extent by a fifth-place finish in her debut against winners in December.

Nearly two months later, Makoma makes her third career start in an optional claimer over 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares at Santa Anita on Friday. Trainer John Shirreffs remains enthusiastic about the filly’s potential.

“She’s filled out a little bit, and I like the way she’s coming into the race,” Shirreffs said.

Owned by breeders Jerry and Ann Moss, Makoma beat maidens over 6 1/2 furlongs on Oct. 11 but was fifth of seven after a slow start in an allowance race over 1 1/16 miles on Dec. 3.

“We thought she’d run better last time,” Shirreffs said.

Makoma was last to early stretch in that race, and Shirreffs says she may be closer to the front on Friday, though he said she will not have a major “strategy change.” She will be ridden by her regular rider, Mike Smith.

Makoma is part of a field of seven, which includes Gumption and Lea the Punisher, who were third in similar races in their last starts; and Party With Brando, who is making her fourth start of the winter-spring meeting, which began Dec. 26.

Trained by Barry Abrams, Party With Brando was fourth in an optional claimer against statebreds on Dec. 27, third in an optional claimer against open company on Jan. 9, and won an optional claimer against statebreds on Jan. 20.

Party With Brando has won 4 of 34 starts and is 2 for 3 in races on a dirt track. Abrams has concerns about the quick turnaround from the Jan. 20 race.

“She loves the dirt,” he said. “This race came up and there is nowhere else to run. This race may not come up again for another month. I wanted to run her on the dirt.”

Party With Brando won 2 of 23 starts last year. She won an optional claimer for statebreds over 1 1/16 miles by 9 1/4 lengths at Fairplex Park in September when she was eligible to be claimed for $40,000. Party With Brando has not run for a claiming price in six subsequent starts.

“I like her chances, if the last race didn’t take too much out of her,” Abrams said.