02/11/2008 12:00AM

'Quest' aims to improve in allowance

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Who will set the pace in Wednesday's $44,500 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park? Figuring out the answer to that question could go a long way to figuring out who will win the wide-open, 1 1/16-mile optional claiming race for older fillies and mares.

With a decided lack of speed in the lineup, My Golden Quest could wind up with the advantage if jockey John Velazquez decides to take the early initiative. My Golden Quest showed speed earlier in her career when capturing both her maiden and first-level allowance wins on dirt, although she has raced from off the pace in five subsequent starts on grass, four of which came against stakes competition.

My Golden Quest was closer to the early leaders when trainer Todd Pletcher dropped her back into allowance company here last month. The daughter of Coronado's Quest was gaining a short advantage in early stretch before succumbing grudgingly to finish less than a length behind the fast-closing winner, Ballymore Lady.

"I thought she ran a very competitive race coming off a layoff and I expect her to improve a touch on Wednesday," Pletcher said.

Kin to the Wind and Lady Carlock, who finished a nose and a neck in front of My Golden Quest when the trio met last month, could be at the mercy of a slower pace in the rematch as both do their best running from far back. Kin to the Wind continues in top form, having registered a win and three seconds from her last four starts.

Both Star Dixie and Ella Enta step up off victories against weaker allowance opposition earlier this year.

Star Dixie rallied from last to post a half-length decision over the well-regarded Paris Winds on Jan. 9, with three of her other victims that day having since returned to win their next starts.

Ella Enta rallied from midpack to a relatively easy 2 1/4-length first-level allowance tally in her U.S. debut at Calder on Jan. 1, but received only a 76 Beyer Speed Figure for the performance.

"It wasn't a great race, if you look at the Beyer number, but you've got to think she'll improve a little off the race, although she's going to have to step up quite a bit to beat this field," said Neal McLaughlin, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.