07/20/2010 1:20PM

Porto Marmay gets perfect pace setup


DEL MAR, Calif. – Opening day at Del Mar is for the once-a-year fashionistas, their big hats, loud clothes, louder voices, and interest more in the scene off the track than on. Day Two on Thursday is for the regulars, and they will be treated to a surprisingly strong mid-week card, highlighted by three allowance races, including a deep, competitive turf sprint for stakes-class older fillies and mares.

The fields number no more than eight for the entire eight-race card, and seven are entered in the most compelling race of the day, the fifth, but quality trumps quantity in these allowance races.

The fifth, at five furlongs on turf for a $64,000 pot, is headed by stakes-class runners Pasar Silbano, Porto Marmay, and Reba Is Tops. Both Pasar Silbano and Reba Is Tops are making their first starts since Jan. 3. Porto Marmay is making the third start of her form cycle, and faces a field with plenty of speed, which should help her late rush, even at this abbreviated distance.

“She’s got a chance,” Julio Canani, who trains Porto Marmay, said Tuesday morning at Del Mar. “There’s a lot of speed in there.”

Porto Marmay was third in small stakes on the Hollywood Park turf in her last two starts. She most recently missed by just a half-length in the Culver City on July 2.

Pasar Silbano was fourth, and Reba Is Tops seventh, in the Jan. 3 Monrovia Handicap on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita. Since being imported from Ireland, Pasar Silbano’s best races in this country have been in turf sprints. Her trainer, Jim Cassidy, said he will stick with that going forward.

“We’ve tried her going long. It’s a question of whether she’ll relax, and she won’t. I don’t want to run her in anything other than a sprint,” Cassidy said. “She had time off because she had a little something going on with a hock. We gave her time to get over it. She’s training super.”

Reba Is Tops, according to trainer Mark Glatt, was given a rest because of “wear and tear” with her front ankles. Reba Is Tops is remarkably consistent, with 10 wins and 6 seconds in 22 starts.

“We took a tiny chip out of each ankle,” Glatt said. “She’s such a hard trier. She wants to win. I don’t know if she’s 100-percent ready. It’s a prep for the Daisycutter, a race to get the kinks out.”

The $75,000 Daisycutter, also at five furlongs on turf, will be run on Aug. 13. Reba Is Tops was second in that race last year, losing by a nose to course specialist Queen of the Catsle.