10/15/2007 11:00PM

Miabella Colonia facing tougher

EmailSo, how good is Miabella Colonia? The answer will become clearer Thursday night at Penn National when this spectacular maiden winner and five others meet in the $45,000 Blue Mountain Juvenile, a five-furlong sprint for Pennsylvania-bred 2-year-old fillies.

Trained by Les Stickler Jr. for Renpher Stable, Miabella Colonia had three consecutive bullet works going into her career debut at 5 1/2 furlongs at Penn National on Sept. 19.

Bet down to 1-5 under Luis Belmonte, she broke on top, led by 2 1/2 lengths after a quarter-mile, by five after three-eighths, and by 12 turning for home - before gearing down to win by 5 1/2.

Since then, she worked three furlongs in a fastest-of-nine 34.80 seconds on Friday. And Stickler is strong with runners in Miabella Colonia's position. He wins with 25opercent of his last-out winners and with 57 percent of his second-time starters. Also, he's adding blinkers Thursday on Miabella Colonia, and he's won with 43 percent of his starters in blinkers for the first time. Belmonte rides again.

Espindola also comes in off a solid debut victory, and for a much higher purse, at Philadelphia Park on Sept. 23. Espindola went six furlongs in 1:11.60, earning a 64 Beyer Speed Figure, tops in the Blue Mountain. She also led gate to wire. Espindola's debut was for a $44,000 purse, Miabella Colonia's was for $16,000 - meaning Espindola's task probably was tougher. And it raises the question, how good is she?

Gally's Way, with a win and a place in two starts, also has early speed and breaks from the rail. She won a $20,000 maiden special at Penn National on Oct. 3, and meet-leading jockey Tom Clifton again will ride.

Unbridledloveaffair, 1 for 2, comes in off a maiden special win for $25,000 at Charles Town in August. Dead Flowers, a maiden with two starts, and first-time starter Jakes Heart complete the field. Dead Flowers, the only filly in the field ever to pass a horse in a race, would benefit by a pace meltdown.