Updated on 09/18/2011 1:16AM

Posts could be decisive in turf stakes

Adam Coglianese
Elisa's Energy (above) is drawn outside in post 11, next to Lady Bi Bi (12).

ELMONT, N.Y. - Up-and-comers clash with the old guard in Sunday's 28th running of the $100,000-added Mount Vernon Handicap for New York-bred fillies and mares, scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on the inner turf course.

Fifteen were entered and 12 will run, and with less than a sixteenth of a mile to the first turn, post positions could be a factor, especially since a handful who ran in divisions of last year's Mount Vernon - The Lamp Is Lit (post 1), On the Bus (2), Nurse Culkin (4), Sabellina (5), and Little Buttercup (6) - drew favorably toward the inside.

Lady Bi Bi, who beat Little Buttercup and Sabellina in a blanket finish in last year's first division after breaking from the rail, drew post 12 this time. Even so, a wide draw in a two-turn turf race is often not the kiss of death that it can be on dirt, because the pace is slower to develop. Through Thursday's racing, horses breaking from posts 7-10 had won 11 of 24 turf races at 1 1/8 miles.

Lady Bi Bi finished fourth behind The Lamp Is Lit and Sabellina when she returned for her first start as a 7-year-old in late May.

"Her prep race got her a little tired and was good," said her trainer, John Hertler. "She likes the big turns at Belmont because it's easier for her to settle."

A trio of talented new faces fared better at the draw than Lady Bi Bi, but only slightly. Half Heaven, fresh off a sharp score against open second-level allowance rivals in her first start at 4, drew post 9. Itsnotthemoney, a 3-year-old making her stakes debut after three straight wins in maiden and conditioned allowances, drew post 10. Elisa's Energy, who has finished first on five different turf courses on both coasts for Bobby Frankel, is stuck in the 11 hole.

Half Heaven finished first or second in 6 of 9 starts last year, and looked good in her first start of the year at Aqueduct.

"She ran well off the layoff, and I think there's still room for improvement," said trainer Gary Contessa. "She had a perfect trip that day, and hopefully she gets another one Sunday. These races are so competitive. It's all about how the race sets up and where you are."

Finlandia (post 3), Samsincharge (7), and Rahy's Appeal (8) also drew into the main body.

On the outside looking in from the also-eligible list are Tiffany Touch, Square Dancing, and Lookin' Swell.