06/01/2013 1:56PM

Parx Racing: Quality Lass shows strong form for Monday optional claimer

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Quality Lass began her 4-year-old campaign in mid-January running for a $25,000 claiming tag against nonwinners-of-two competition. Less than six months later, Quality Lass will compete for a $53,000 purse against some of the best non-stakes female sprinters on the grounds at Parx Racing.

Quality Lass will go for her fifth win in her last six starts when she breaks from the rail as the 123-pound highweight in Monday’s feature, a six-furlong sprint for third-level optional $40,000 claiming fillies and mares.

In the first 10 starts of her career, racing almost exclusively on synthetic surfaces, Quality Lass won just once. She didn’t show much improvement when she closed her 3-year-old campaign sprinting on dirt at Charles Town. But since coming to Parx and working with trainer Lupe Preciado, Quality Lass has become a much-improved filly.

In 6 starts, she has collected 4 wins and 2 seconds. Most recently, Quality Lass cleared her first allowance condition by 3 1/2 lengths in early April and followed up a month later by beating second-level optonal $25,000 claimers by three-quarters of a length sprinting on turf at Pimlico.

Over the past two seasons, Preciado is winning at a 40 percent clip (17 for 42) with runners like Quality Lass owned by West Point Thoroughbreds.

Quality Lass will likely face pressure for the early lead from the 7-year-old mare Rhyme N Rhythm, who breaks just to her outside in post 2. Rhyme N Rhythm takes the next logical rise in class after cruising to a 10-length victory over a sloppy track at Penn National on May 10. In her only previous start at Parx, Rhyme N Rhythm faded to third running for a $12,500 tag last November.

She’s Ordained, winner of three of her last four starts, also is likely to contest the early pace. The last time she faced allowance runners, She’s Ordained romped by 10 lengths at Penn National in March to clear her second condition.

The most likely benefactor of a hot, contested pace is Zaphyra, a 7-year-old mare making a rare start in a sprint. The last time Zaphyra raced at shorter than a mile was her maiden win going seven furlongs in January 2010. She must be respected coming from New York for trainer Bruce Levine, who is 22 for 80 (28 percent) shipping into Parx the past two seasons.