06/10/2009 11:00PM

Mani Bhavan looks to rebound in Jostle

Barbara D. Livingston
Mani Bhavan has finished in last place in her two most recent starts.

For a seven-week period last summer, Mani Bhavan was simply sensational, winning her first three starts, including the Grade 2 Adirondack and the Grade 1 Spinaway 18 days apart at Saratoga.

In two subsequent starts, however, Mani Bhavan has finished dead last both times, beaten a total of more than 59 lengths.

Rather than panic, trainer Steve Klesaris has chosen to send out Mani Bhavan against slightly easier company in an attempt to regroup against 11 other 3-year-old fillies in Saturday's $200,000 Jostle Stakes at Philadelphia Park.

Mani Bhavan, named for the Mumbai, India, residence of Mahatma Gandhi, is returning roughly a month after she was eased in the Grade 3 Miss Preakness at Pimlico. Based on that performance and her distant seventh going two turns on Polytrack as the 8-5 favorite in last fall's Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland, she's listed as an 8-1 outsider on the track's morning line.

A best-of-26 four-furlong workout in 47 seconds at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland indicates Mani Bhavan is physically fit, and she could be the value play in the Jostle.

Mani Bhavan will be ridden by Anna Napravnik, who will be riding the filly for the first time since her career debut last July.

The New York-based filly Saarlight, who didn't begin her career until February, is the slight favorite at 3-1. She has not been worse than second in four starts, including her maiden victory in the Wide Country at Laurel Park in March and a second in the Grade 3 Nassau County at Belmont last time out.

In a field where six fillies won their most recent race, recent winners Union City and On the Menu, plus Cinderella's Wish, a fast-closing runner-up in the Miss Preakness, merit consideration.

Union City, trained by Tony Dutrow, crushed first-level allowance rivals locally by eight lengths on May 22. She now makes the second start of her form cycle, a highly positive stat category for Dutrow. He is 14 for 26 (54 percent) with fillies and mares coming off a win for their second start off a layoff, according to DRF's Formulator.

On the Menu also fits that pattern. She comes back 28 days after getting up by a neck in the Just Smashing at Monmouth Park. Her trainer, Larry Jones, shows a 6-for-17 record with female winners making their second start off a layoff.

An abundance of early speed could benefit Cinderella's Wish, who came from five lengths back to miss by a head in the Miss Preakness after winning her first two starts.