03/24/2004 12:00AM

Petrina Above has shot to beat Lilah on turf


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Lilah will be favored to capture Friday's turf feature at about five furlongs at Gulfstream Park despite the fact that she has never won on grass. But turf sprint specialist Petrina Above could be primed to spring a minor upset when she returns to her favorite surface in the $46,000 main event, an open allowance race.

is in the best form of her career at age 7 and comes into Friday's race off a pair of one-sided victories on the main track. She will also receive a break in weight from her seven rivals, because of the allowance conditions and the presence of her regular rider, seven-pound apprentice Shannon Uske.

Lilah, however, has made just one start on grass, finishing last of seven behind Dedication in an allowance race during the fall at Belmont.

Petrina Above finished behind Lilah in their two previous meetings, but trainer Frank Carlisi is hopeful the change of surface will close the gap between the two mares.

"Lilah was very impressive in her last two races, and if she performs as well on turf as she has on dirt, I can't beat her," Carlisi said. "But I'm guessing she won't, and I know my horse will run much better on grass. I've been waiting a long time to get her back on the turf."

has won six times and been off the board only once in 11 previous turf sprints. She came within .20 seconds of the course record of 55 seconds when she captured the five-furlong Bob Slater Handicap by 5 1/4 widening lengths here last spring.

"She really loves this course with its wide turns," said Carlisi.

Petrina Above is one of several members of the field with solid sprint credentials on grass. Melody of Colors has posted two victories and three second-place finishes in eight lifetime starts in turf races under six furlongs. She comes off a good mile try on March 8 and, like Petrina Above, owns a win over the local course.

Paga finished third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Petrina Above, despite a slow start and wide trip in Calder's Bluffs Dividend Handicap on Dec. 7. Paga won Santa Anita's Grade 3 Monrovia Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs in December 2001.

Formal Miss and Dyna Da Wyna are both stakes winners on grass around two turns. Ozilda's Nancy Lee and Out of the Will round out the lineup. Vibs is on the also-eligible list.