06/06/2013 3:37PM

Parx Racing: Heart of Rome may be vulnerable favorite in Jostle Stakes


Within the first two months of 2013, Heart of Rome lost three straight races at odds of 3-1 or lower while running for a claiming tag. Now, three weeks after clearing her first allowance condition while running the fastest race of her 14-start career, Heart of Rome has been established as the 8-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s $75,000 Jostle Stakes at Parx Racing.

Heart of Rome, with twice as many runner-up finishes (six) as wins (three), has the appearance of a favorite worth trying to beat in the 6 1/2-furlong dirt sprint for 3-year-old fillies.

Heart of Rome’s 82 Beyer Speed Figure for her off-the-pace, half-length score in a first-level optional $50,000 claimer at Pimlico on May 17 is the best lifetime figure in Saturday’s field of seven, which includes a coupled entry for trainer Pat Farro. But given that Heart of Rome failed to deliver while running for tags of $16,000 and $25,000 early in the season, handicappers have a right to be skeptical about whether she will repeat her most recent performance.

Second choice Lighthouse Bay (5-2) may be no bargain either. She won last fall’s Smart Halo at Laurel Park and comes off a close third in the Miss Preakness at Pimlico. Although she will be making the third start of her current form cycle, which often produces a peak performance, Lighthouse Bay’s trainer, George Weaver, is 0 for his last 11 with female sprinters making their third start off a layoff.

Likewise, top Parx trainer Phil Aristone shows a negative pattern with fillies like Dreamingofcarmella, who steps up sharply in class following a big win with a 79 Beyer against $25,000 starter-allowance foes. Aristone is 1 for 25 with female sprinters back in fewer than 30 days following a career-best Beyer.

The right value play may be Doubled, the winner of the six-furlong, $100,000 Sorority last summer at Monmouth Park. Doubled rallied mildly to get second while chasing front-running winner Missy Rules in the slower division of the Our Mims on opening day at Delaware Park. She now cuts back from a mile for trainer Cathal Lynch, who shows a 3-for-11 record (27 percent) with horses switching from routes to sprints the second time back from a layoff.