04/19/2005 11:00PM

Picture Gallery late-meet angle play

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The competition was unquestionably tougher during the opening half of the 2005 Gulfstream Park meeting than it has been in the latter stages of the meeting, because most of the major outfits have already shipped north. It's a factor that could make Picture Gallery an intriguing proposition in Friday's $37,000 feature, a third-level optional claimer for fillies and mares at a mile on the main track.

made two starts during the early stages of the meet, finishing fourth despite a slow start on Feb. 4 and fifth over a sloppy track while facing decidedly stronger and slightly higher-priced optional claiming company three weeks later. Picture Gallery, a stretch-running daughter of Allen's Prospect, won a pair of allowance races at Suffolk Downs in 2004. She has trained steadily for her final appearance of the meet and could get a nice pace setup with several of her five rivals likely to show a high turn of early speed.

Trainer Jeff Hooper will give Eddie King Jr. a return call on Picture Gallery, a homebred owned by Patricia Moseley.

will likely go off as the public choice, following a second-place finish in the Florida Breeders' Distaff Stakes at Ocala on March 21. Miracle Runner, who was stretching out around two turns for the first time that day, rallied from off the pace to gain a short advantage in early stretch, but could not hold her lead in the final furlong. Miracle Runner was stakes-placed in December at Calder.

Family Favorite, who engaged Miracle Runner for the lead near midstretch only to finish a tiring third in the Florida Breeders' Distaff, is also among the leading contenders in a field that also includes Clearly A.K.O., American Miss, and Marnesia Light.

is a consistent filly who has finished no worse than third in her last 12 starts, although only one of them was beyond 6 1/2 furlongs. She is wheeling back on only a week's rest, having finished third in $32,000 starter allowance company on April 15.

Friday's program will also have the first 2-year-old race of the season - 11 juveniles slated to sprint 2 1/2 furlongs out of the chute. Jimmie Pong, one of five fillies in the field, figures to be an overwhelming favorite because of a trio of bullet three-furlong gate works at Palm Meadows.

Gulfstream management has added two $75,000 grass stakes to the schedule to close out the 2005 meeting this weekend.

On Saturday, 3-year-old fillies will go five furlongs in the Cellars Shiraz Stakes, while 3-year-olds of both genders are eligible for the five-furlong Kissin Kris Stakes on Sunday.