10/09/2009 11:00PM

Pace figures to be quick in turf mile


Safety Valve and Prove Meguilty, a pair of 3-year-olds who still may be on the way up in their racing careers, look intriguing in Monday's eighth race at Laurel Park. But their similar front-running styles, coupled with the presence of four others who also like to flash high early speed, makes it tough to predict whether Safety Valve or Prove Meguilty can clear their second allowance condition.

Race 8 on a special nine-race Columbus Day card that begins at 1:10 p.m. Eastern is a $28,000 allowance scheduled for one mile. It's also one of three turf races on the program.

Safety Valve, trained by Rodney Jenkins, has been in the money in all but one of his five starts - an ambitious spotting in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby. All three of his good races going long on the grass have come when he was sent to the lead.

That style worked well when he was able to set extremely slow fractions in back-to-back wins at Colonial Downs in June, but he backed up in the lane when he had to go a bit faster early in his most recent start Sept. 25.

Prove Meguilty, from the barn of Dane Kobiskie, has gone around two turns just twice in his 10-race career, winning his maiden in the slop at Penn National and finishing a close second in a second-level allowance at Mountaineer. He should be prominent stretching out from a series of sprints.

Since recent allowance winner Make Them Break, logical contender Celestial Comet, and longshots Northern Cruiser and Eighttofasttocatch also are front-runners, Safety Valve and Prove Meguilty figure to come under lots of pace pressure.

The expected fast pace could provide an ideal setup for the 7-year-old Missing Blue, a consistent older claimer who has been first or second in 12 of 22 lifetime starts on turf.

Missing Blue, trained by Don Barr, has two wins and a second by a neck among his last four starts. He comes back 17 days after rallying to finish fourth of 10, beaten just 1 1/2 lengths, against similar competition to what he faces Monday.

Coming back quickly is nothing new for Missing Blue, who has been first or second in 7 of 14 starts he has made returning on less than three weeks' rest.