04/16/2009 11:00PM

Plenty of stakes experience


There is not a stakes among the nine races at Lone Star Park on Sunday. However, there is the next-best alternative - a stakes-quality allowance.

Race 7, a $27,000 second-level allowance for 3-year-old fillies at 7 1/2 furlongs on turf, drew two stakes winners among its nine entries - Megan's Tough Love and My Spanx - as well as four stakes-placed runners - Lil Pink Cadillac, Noble Bandit, The Cat Who, and Monica's Skirmish.

My Spanx, coming off a seventh at Oaklawn Park behind Rachel Alexandra in the Feb. 15 Martha Washington Stakes and a sixth behind Just Jenda in the Grade 3 Honeybee there March 15, may have a fitness edge in a race laden with comebackers.

She should further benefit from a return to her preferred surface, turf, after racing on dirt this spring at Oaklawn. In five starts on grass, My Spanx has shown a high-level of ability, particularly late last year at 2. Last fall, after winning a maiden race at Louisiana Downs by 3 1/2 lengths, she took the $100,000 La Senorita Stakes on the turf at Retama Park on Nov. 1, beating The Cat Who by a half- length.

Martin Escobar, who rode her to victory in the La Senorita, has the mount again on My Spanx.

Megan's Tough Love also looms a contender, despite not having raced since winning the Cimarron Stakes at Remington Park on Nov. 16. That race came at the same distance as Sunday's allowance.

Trained by Bret Calhoun, she is 2 for 3 and has raced exclusively on grass.

The filly most likely to challenge the two stakes-winning fillies is Noble Bandit, who outgamed My Spanx for second last August at Louisiana Downs in the Donnie Wilhite Memorial Handicap.

Most recently, she bravely won a slow-paced first-level allowance on the grass at Fair Grounds on Jan. 29 for trainer Steve Asmussen.

A quick pace is expected, since at least five of the nine entrants are accustomed to racing on or close to the early pace.

In winning a 7 1/2-furlong maiden race over this course last July, Noble Bandit at least showed that she is capable of effectively rating when necessary.