09/01/2006 11:00PM

Matchup of form vs. class


The accomplishments of Splendid Blended, who won the Grade 1 Vanity at Hollywood last July and the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet in 2004, tower over her nine filly-mare rivals in Tuesday's $100,000 Steve Van Buren Handicap at Philadelphia Park. Past glory may make Splendid Blended the favorite in the seven-furlong race, but it is not going to help her get to the wire first, and she will have her hands full with a sharp filly who has yet to win a graded stakes, My Lucky Free.

My Lucky Free, 3, has finally become the filly she portended to be in her debut maiden score last year at Hollywood Park. She dropped five straight after that win, including three stakes appearances at 2 and a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 Miss Preakness in May.

But the light apparently has gone on in the head of My Lucky Free, and she has rocketed to five-length-plus wins in her last two races, a Monmouth allowance and the Regret there. Trained by Cam Gambolati, My Lucky Free appears the speed of the Van Buren field, and Splendid Blended will have to run one of her better races to beat her.

My Lucky Free has also been entered at Monmouth in a race Monday, and it certainly

wouldn't break the heart of Bill Mott, trainer of Splendid Blended, if she were to run there instead.

The 4-year-old Splendid Blended may not be the filly she was at 2 or 3, but she is far from a has-been. She won the Grade 2 Shirley Jones at Gulfstream in March in her second start of the year and comes off a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill. Splendid Blended lost her best chance in that race when she bobbled at the start.

S W Aly'svalentine goes for her fifth straight win in the Van Buren. She has the speed to keep up with My Lucky Free and Splendid Blended early.