02/09/2011 1:03PM

Quebrada Shiner comes out of key race at Gulfstream

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Last month’s Grade 3 Marshua’s River has already come up a key race, with also-rans Cherokee Queen and Trip for A.J. having since returned to win stakes races in their next starts. That should make Quebrada Shiner, who finished eighth but fewer than four lengths behind the winner in the Marshua’s River, a good fit when she comes back in Friday’s $61,500 main event at Gulfstream Park, scheduled to be run at a mile on the turf under high-priced optional claiming and allowance conditions.

Quebrada Shiner has already proven an astute claim by trainer Robert Barbara, who bought the mare for $35,000 out of a winning effort last summer at Saratoga. The Argentina-bred returned quick dividends when she finished a close second in an overnight stakes at Belmont before capping off 2010 winning a high-level optional claimer at a mile over the Aqueduct turf.

Quebrada Shiner stumbled leaving the gate and forced the pace upon recovering before weakening a bit through the final furlong of the Marshua’s River.

“She lost a front shoe in the stakes, probably coming out of the gate when she stumbled briefly, so I think she can be much more competitive than that,” said Barbara. “She’s easy to handle. I think we’ll be able to sit off the pace just a bit, and a mile seems to suit her well.”

Although Friday’s field may be softer than the Marshua’s River, the race still came up a tough spot. Included among the compact lineup are Striking Dancer, who returns to the grass after being graded stakes-placed in each of her last two starts on dirt; Strike it Rich, a Grade 3 winner last summer in New Jersey; Romacaca, fourth in Arlington Park’s Grade 1 Beverly D. in August; and Grade 3 winner First Passage, who will be making her first start for trainer Shug McGaughey.

Striking Dancer finished third in the Grade 2 Fall City Handicap in her 2010 finale and third in Calder’s Grade 3 Stage Door Betty Handicap on New Year’s Day. She has not tried grass since running fourth in the 11 furlong, Grade 3 Glens Falls at Saratoga.

Strike It Rich has not started since finishing last after pressing the pace in Saratoga’s Grade 2 Lake George on July 28. She led throughout to capture Monmouth Park’s Boiling Springs five weeks earlier.