10/21/2004 12:00AM

Pelham Bay has license to improve


ELMONT, N.Y. - A slow start on a day when speed was good may have compromised Pelham Bay when she ran fifth in the Joseph Gimma Stakes on Oct. 3.

Her connections are hoping that with a cleaner break, a fairer racing surface, and an extra furlong, Pelham Bay could reverse her fortunes in Saturday's $100,000 Maid of the Mist Stakes for New York-bred 2-year-old fillies.

was squeezed between horses and dropped back to last in the Joseph Gimma. She raced wide down the backside and made up almost half of a 10-length deficit in the stretch when finishing fifth behind Megascape in the Gimma. She was beaten just two lengths for second.

"I was pretty disappointed the other day - I thought she was live,'' trainer Pat Kelly said. "It turned out to be a very speed-favoring track that day. She got slammed leaving there from the outside and the inside. We thought it would be good to come from behind because we've been trying to settle her down. She was the only one running at the end, it looked like to me.''

Prior to the Gimma, Pelham Bay had gone 2 for 2 at Belmont. Her prior two losses came at Saratoga, both races run on muddy tracks.

Kelly is adding blinkers to Pelham Bay's equipment in hopes of getting her to focus more. She drew the outside post in the nine-horse field, which may give her an edge in the one-mile race. Shaun Bridgmohan rides.

Megascape survived an early pace duel to win the Gimma by 3 1/4 lengths. She did come home in a pokey 14.62 seconds, however, and may be worth playing against trying to stretch out to a mile.

Social Virtue finished second in the Gimma, and adds Lasix for this. Royal Fudge, who rallied along the rail to be third in the Gimma, is also back.

Speed Bag came out of a second-place finish to Social Virtue in a Sept. 6 maiden race to win her maiden by 11 1/4 lengths here on Sept. 19.

Tiffany Touch, a daughter of Deputy Minister out of the multiple-stakes-winning mare Careless Heiress, may be one of the best-bred horses on the card. She won an off-the-turf maiden race at Saratoga going seven furlongs and will have had nearly two months between starts.

"We think the mile will help her,'' trainer Todd Pletcher said. "She ran pretty decent going seven-eighths.''

Karakorum Splendor and No Way No How complete the field.