04/28/2006 12:00AM

Princess Pelona blooming at 6


It took Princess Pelona until November of her 5-year-old campaign and 25 starts to win her first stakes. Now, at 6, an age when most mares have been retired to the breeding shed, Princess Pelona has earned her first shot at a graded stakes.

Following Princess Pelona's second straight stakes score in last Sunday's $55,300 Winter Melody at Delaware Park, trainer Mike Trombetta said he intends to point the her to the Grade 3, $200,000 Allaire duPont Breeders' Cup Distaff at Pimlico. The 1 1/16-mile race will be run on the Black-Eyed Susan card on May 19, one day before the Preakness.

Trombetta said he feels confident Princess Pelona is up to the challenge after she proved she could handle two turns and 1 1/16 miles in the Winter Melody, a race in which she earned a 94 Beyer Speed Figure. Her previous two stakes wins came in one-turn races at Laurel, the seven-furlong Stefanita last fall and the one-mile Snow Goose on April 1.

"I thought she ran exceptionally well," said Trombetta. "I was a little concerned with the extra sixteenth and with the two turns. She has learned how to do the one-turn miles pretty good, but the Winter Melody was a little different race. I thought she did darn good."

Among those Princess Pelona defeated in the Winter Melody was multiple stakes winner Friel's for Real, who was fourth in last year's $1 million Delaware Handicap.

Although she has been consistent throughout her career, winning 10 of 30 starts and $354,255, Princess Pelona was winless in her first seven stakes. She has clearly blossomed late, however, collecting three wins and a second in four stakes since Nov. 19.

The turnaround, Trombetta said, is hard to explain. "She just seemed to really come into herself the last five or six months," he said.

Dance Fee, the runner-up to Princess Pelona in the Winter Melody by three-quarters of a length, is likely to be pointed to an allowance race at Delaware sometime next month, according to her trainer, Mike Gorham.

Pino makes sharp claim

Trainer Mike Pino may have gotten himself a stakes-caliber 3-year-old when he dipped into the maiden claiming ranks at Oaklawn Park to take a chance on second-time starter Lacewell.

Making his first start since coming to Pino's barn following the $62,500 claim, Lacewell scored a 2 3/4-length win in a first-level allowance that included older horses last Sunday at Delaware. He got an 87 Beyer for his performance in the six-furlong race.

As a result, Pino said he is thinking about running Lacewell back in the $75,000 Francis "Jock" LaBelle Stakes for 3-year-olds on May 6.

"After the race, we nominated him to the Jock LaBelle," Pino said. "We are just going to take some time and see how he is doing, so that could be the next spot."

Lacewell led from gate to wire in the allowance, contested over a wet-fast track.

"I was real happy with the race," Pino said. "He kind of got pushed. He is still a little green and he tried to get out a little. When a fresh horse came to him, he pulled off. I was pretty impressed."

Pino and the owners, the Elkstone Group, also liked what they saw when Lacewell finished a close second in his career debut against maiden special weight company at Oaklawn in early February. When he showed up in a maiden claimer five weeks later, they pulled the trigger on the claim.

"We saw that he was a big, good-looking horse and he ran second versus maiden special company," Pino said. "We were impressed with his first start, so we thought we would take a shot."

Diabolical drops to win

After picking up small pieces of the purse in six stakes since last August, the 3-year-old colt Diabolical dropped into a first-level allowance Wednesday at Delaware Park.

Although he won for the first time since his career debut at Belmont Park last July, finishing 8 1/4 lengths in front of runner-up Calvin K, Diabolical earned a modest 82 Beyer Speed Figure, 19 points less than he received for his second-place finish in the Spectacular Bid at Gulfstream Park on April 1.

Trainer Steve Klesaris said Diabolical at least proved he could handle a two-turn mile.

"We just wanted to establish him and get him a good victory around two turns," Klesaris said. "He has always been a headstrong horse and very aggressive. The experiment was to send him around two bends and to see he if would rate correctly."

Klesaris said he is unsure about Diabolical's next start.