04/21/2012 12:53PM

Parx: Smarty Slewy and trainer Helmetag both in good form for Monday feature


During his 30 years as a trainer, Robert Helmetag has experienced more than his share of hard times. During a four-year stretch in the 1980s, for example, Helmetag endured three seasons in which his horses went a collective 9 for 314 (3 percent) and another lean period during the first decade of the 21st century in which his stable had seasons of 3 for 93, 3 for 92, and 1 for 47.

Helmetag reversed his fortunes in 2011, however, by going 7 for 37 (18 percent) with a gaudy $5.82 return on investment and has been a godsend for longshot players again so far this season with a 5-for-16 record (31 percent) that has produced a $5.85 ROI.

One of the keys to Helmetag’s success has been the 5-year-old mare Smarty Slewy, who connected for back-to-back wins in the starter allowance ranks at Parx Racing at odds of 9-1 and 10-1. She is likely to be a much shorter price when she goes for her first allowance victory in Monday’s featured ninth race at a mile.

Claimed for $7,500 last November, Smarty Slewy has collected 2 wins and 3 second-place finishes in 7 starts for Helmetag. Three weeks ago, in her first crack at clearing her first allowance condition at the same distance and class level as she faces Monday, Smarty Slewy rallied from 13 lengths back after the first half-mile to get second, beaten 1 3/4 lengths. She gets in with three pounds less weight Monday at 120 pounds, including jockey Kristina McManigell, who has been aboard for each of the mare’s last five races.

The eight-horse field includes three other runners who have shown good form in starter allowances, but are now moving up to allowance company for the first time.

Face of an Angel, who is a nose shy of winning back-to-back starts, must carry an additional five pounds as the 123-pound highweight following her half-length win going a mile on April 7.

Shiloh’s Vine, who scored easily going a mile to close out her 2011 campaign in December, steps up in class after losing all chance when she broke awkwardly in her season debut on April 9.

Storm Rubi, claimed by Scott Lake out of a 13 1/2-length romp in February, stretches out following a win and a close third in her first two starts for her new connections, both going 6 1/2 furlongs.