03/14/2006 12:00AM

Mystic Chant in right spot to rebound


ARCADIA, Calif. - In a perfect world, horses would run only under optimal conditions. But sometimes a proper race is unavailable, and horsemen must choose between not running or running in the wrong race.

It makes a handicapper's task relatively simple. When a horse enters the wrong spot - such as a sprinter in a route or an allowance horse in a graded stakes - they usually can be eliminated from consideration. It is the horse's next start that poses the dilemma.

was in the wrong spot Feb. 26 at Santa Anita, through no fault of trainer Eduardo Inda. A stakes-winning sprinter from New York, Mystic Chant entered a turf sprint Feb. 18, but the race was switched to the main track because of rain, and Mystic Chant was scratched. Instead of training Mystic Chant for another month, Inda entered her in a mile turf race eight days later.

The result was not unexpected. Mystic Chant ran off under David Flores, opened a seven-length lead after a suicidal half-mile in 44.54 seconds, and weakened to eighth. But in the first race on Thursday, Mystic Chant is back where she belongs - sprinting on turf in a $55,000 nonwinners-of-two other-than allowance for fillies and mares.

It is the right spot for Mystic Chant, a gray filly who enters as the fastest horse in the race. A lightly raced speedster with two wins from six starts, Mystic Chant should be long gone on Thursday. Her main rivals are .

The wrong-race dilemma is difficult to interpret in race 2 on Thursday. That is because Ice Cole was in the wrong spot last month, when he finished sixth in the Grade 2 Strub Stakes, and bettors must estimate the chances of any lasting negative effects.

Ice Cole roared to a seven-length maiden win Jan. 15, earning a 100 Beyer that qualifies him to win a N1X at 1 1/16 miles on Thursday. His rivals include King of L.A., Gallardo, Beneath the Radar, Chekhov, and Le Copain. Ice Cole can win Thursday, but only if his heart was not broken after he was run into the ground by High Limit in the Strub.

The race 7 feature on Thursday is a nonwinners-of-one-other-than turf allowance for fillies and mares at 1 1/4 miles. Live Life, Group 3-placed in France, is the likely winner in her U.S. debut for Neil Drysdale. She will have to beat Fortunate Event, runner-up in a similar spot one month ago.