04/13/2005 11:00PM

Rodriguez has his pick of mounts


Selecting the winner of Saturday's Primonetta Stakes for filly and mare sprinters at Laurel Park might be as simple as watching which horse Eric Rodriguez ends up riding.

When entries were drawn for the $50,000 Primonetta, Rodriguez was named on four of the 11 horses, including a three-horse coupling from owner Michael Gill and trainer Mark Shuman. Rodriguez, neck-and-neck with Eric Camacho for leading rider heading into the final weekend of the meet, has since taken off Baldomera, but Rodriguez is still listed to ride all three Shuman and Gill runners - French Jeanette, Forest Music, and Umpateedle. Collectively, the entry is the 8-5 favorite on the track program.

At least two of the three are likely to run, according to Shuman.

"Forest Music is definite," Shuman said. "She has a ton of ability. She's been running with some fast fillies at Oaklawn and Fair Grounds and is coming up to this race in fantastic shape.

"French Jeannette is probable. She missed some time last year with some small physical problems. She handles Laurel really well and is in peak condition for this race.

"Umpateedle is on the fence," Shuman added. "This mare is doing as well as she ever has. She lost some weight last fall and needed a freshening, so we took care of her."

Based on past accomplishments, Rodriguez could have a difficult time choosing between , a 6-year-old mare.

Forest Music was a three-time winner in 2004, highlighted by a head victory in the Grade 3 Miss Preakness at Pimlico. She most recently finished second to Souris with a 95 Beyer Speed Figure in the Spring Fever at Oaklawn Park.

Forest Music comes into the Primonetta off a seven-week layoff, which is a short rest compared with stablemate Umpateedle's vacation. Umpateedle, winner of 12 races and $355,540 lifetime, has been off since November. She wired a six-horse field in last year's Primonetta, one of her five wins in 2004.

The third part of the entry, French Jeannette, prepped for the Primonetta in a 4 1/2-furlong allowance at Charles Town. She's 3 for 5 lifetime at Laurel.

The two main rivals to the strong entry are 5-year-olds Gelli and Wallop.

, trained by Charles Hadry, could be set for a peak effort in the third start of her form cycle and always runs well at Laurel, where she is 4 for 6.

Wallop, winner of a $75,000 sprint stakes at Mountaineer in December, has finished second in two of her three starts at Laurel this season, including the What a Summer Stakes in January.