10/30/2001 12:00AM

Mpenzi possesses fewest flaws


ARCADIA, Calif. - The problem with the field for the seventh-race feature on Thursday at Santa Anita is they all look the same.

Mpenzi won her most recent start, but lost to La Jolla Shores the time before. Dynamistic has outrun both La Jolla Shores and Jalisco, though she required six starts before winning. Thursday, Dynamistic threatens to extend her latest losing streak to four starts. Pick a name, any name.

The field for the 1 1/4-mile turf race, which includes Angel Song, Little Firefly, and Queenoftheprom, appears virtually inseparable. What's a bettor to do? First, hope the rain that began Tuesday afternoon stops in time for the race to stay on turf. Second, one could do worse than back the filly who has had the fewest chances to prove she is is a bust.

Mpenzi, a 4-year-old Nureyev filly, has raced only three times, and each start has been better than the one before. She was purchased as a yearling by Jon and Sarah Kelly for $450,000 and began her early training with Eddie Gregson. Even while Mpenzi was a 2-year-old, Gregson believed she was a long-term project, and Alexis Barba took over the filly's training following Gregson's death in summer 2000.

Mpenzi finally made her debut this summer at Del Mar, and finished fourth in a maiden race on Aug. 15. Wheeled back 16 days later, Mpenzi pressed the pace and tired to sixth. Her pace and speed figures improved, however, and she continued her upward pattern when the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita began. On Sept. 29, ridden for the first time by Alex Solis, Mpenzi settled midpack, rallied, and was up late to defeat Mabel Kent.

A clue to the strength of Mpenzi's form may be uncovered Wednesday, when Mabel Kent was scheduled to start favored in the first race. Meanwhile, Mpenzi stretches out an additional quarter-mile and faces winners in a one-other-than allowance/optional $40,000 claimer. Based on her improving form, Mpenzi is the most likely winner.

Dynamistic also has gradually improved this season, and the 3-year-old filly missed by only a neck at 1 1/8 miles last time. Trained by Wally Dollase, Dynamistic should have little difficulty with the additional furlong.

Jalisco has raced only four times, only once in the U.S. She finished a troubled sixth in her U.S. debut Oct. 8. While her effort was inconclusive, she did earn a 106 Timeform rating last fall in England, and should improve second start back. Trained by Neil Drysdale, she will be ridden again by Mike Smith.

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