10/10/2001 11:00PM

Marciann seeks second straight Merrillville win

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ANDERSON, Ind. - Marciann tries for a repeat in the $40,000-added Merrillville Stakes at Hoosier Park on Saturday. Eight Indiana-bred fillies and mares were entered in the six-furlong race.

Marciann was the best Indiana-bred filly in training a year ago, reeling off three consecutive stakes victories, including the Merrillville. A 4-year-old daughter of Speedy Cure, she posted a 5-1-0 mark from six starts last year, good for the majority of her lifetime bankroll of $166,716.

The late-running Marciann won an open allowance race by 2 3/4 lengths at Hoosier on Sept. 23 for trainer Shane Spiess. She has won 7 of her 12 starts.

Owned by John Hajduk, Marciann will be ridden by leading rider Terry Thompson, and she breaks break from post 5.

Celona's Girl, owned by Joseph Schwankhart, is likely the main obstacle in Marciann's bid for a repeat win in the Merrillville. Trained by Kenny Smith, Celona's Girl was a narrowly beaten second in both of her starts here this year. Both losses came against one-other-than allowance company.

Celona's Girl's style is to race near the early pace, and she is a danger to steal away from the rest of the field. Sal Gonzalez Jr. has the mount from post 3.

* Also on Saturday, Hoosier Park will run the $35,000 Kudzu Stakes for the third time. The Kudzu is for Alabama-bred 2-year-olds. Five of the eight entrants will be making their career debuts in the 5 1/2-furlong race. The stakes is named for a fast-growing woody vine that has relentlessly spread throughout the South since its introduction in the 1870's.

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