10/13/2010 12:22PM

Neeyo stretches in Nepal Stakes


Each of Neeyo’s last four Beyer Speed Figures are either 87 or 88, which makes the 4-year-old colt not only consistent but by far the fastest runner in the first of two $75,000 stakes restricted to Pennsylvania-breds on Friday night’s card at Penn National Race Course.

But because Neeyo has run just once in the past 14 months and never beyond seven furlongs, he is far from a lock in the 1 1/16-mile Nepal.

Based at Parx Racing with trainer Dee Curry, Neeyo won 3 of his first 4 starts, including the seven-furlong Peppy Addy in July of his 3-year-old season. But he raced just once more, winning an open first-level allowance in September 2009, then went to the sidelines and never resurfaced until a full year later, when he set the pace until deep stretch and settled for second in a second-level allowance going six furlongs at his home track.

Although Neeyo is fast, Curry’s statistics with stretch-out sprinters making their second start off a layoff – 0 for 12 – are not encouraging. But in a big field where the remainder of the horses are a collective 4 for 28 at the distance, there is no obvious viable alternative to the probable favorite.

Sweet Sugar is the only other horse in the Nepal’s main body who has come close to Neeyo’s Beyers. He got an 87 for his distant third in the 2009 Smarty Jones Classic and matched that number sprinting while finishing second in a conditioned $25,000 claimer in April. But Sweet Sugar has been off since he was beaten 24 lengths in a first-level allowance restricted to Pennsylvania-breds in late May and his trainer, Ronald Dandy, is 0 for 6 with route runners returning from a layoff of 61 to 180 days.

Royal Clash merits respect on the basis of trainer Juan Carlos Guerrero’s 54 percent hit rate first time off the claim the last two years. But the horse is only 1 for 17 the past two seasons and 0 for 5 at the distance.

Among the others trying to stretch out around two turns for the first time are the 3-year-old Andrew L, a recent maiden winner going six furlongs, and This Bulls Back, who gained 10 1/2 lengths in the final quarter-mile of a six-furlong sprint to get second at 31-1 last time out while making just the second start of his 28-race career against statebreds.

Ligature: ‘Tye Dye’ out to end skid

The picture also looks muddled in the 1 1/16-mile Ligature for fillies and mares.

Miss Blue Tye Dye, a six-time stakes winner between May 2008 and October 2009, is the defending champion after winning last year’s off-the-turf race by 11 3/4 lengths. But she is mired in a 10-race losing streak, and her recent form is sour.

Coastal Solace, the distant runner-up in last year’s Ligature and second behind Miss Blue Tye Dye in the Distaff at Parx Racing in September 2009, is a two-time restricted stakes winner for high-percentage trainer Steve Klesaris. But she is winless in her last five starts and no better than third in three races this year.

Speechifying, a 7-year-old mare with 11 lifetime wins, makes her first start off a $16,000 claim by trainer Murray Rojas and stretches out while looking for her third straight win. She was good enough to win the $260,000 My Juliet in 2007, but is 0 for 7 in Pennsylvania-bred stakes and 0 for 7 at Friday night’s distance.