05/11/2010 12:00AM

Saarlight talented but fragile filly

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Following a sharp comeback victory at Aqueduct in December, Saarlight looked poised to have a good winter in the filly and mare sprint stakes in the Northeast. But myriad issues put her on the sidelines for several months.

Wednesday, at Belmont Park, Saarlight makes her 4-year-old debut against six rivals in a $59,000 money allowance race going 6 1/2 furlongs which serves as the feature on a nine-race card.

Saarlight was talented enough to win her maiden in the Wide Country Stakes at Laurel. Following a blow-out allowance win at Aqueduct, Saarlight finished second to Flashing in the Grade 3 Nassau County Stakes at Belmont. Flashing went on to capture a pair of Grade 1 races last year.

Meanwhile, Saarlight was beaten 14 3/4 lengths as the even-money favorite in the Jostle Stakes at Philadelphia Park on June 13. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, with owner Cam Allard's blessing, opted to put her away after that.

Saarlight returned to the races on Dec. 10, taking a second-level allowance race over Aqueduct's inner track by one length. While being considered for the Barbara Fritchie at Laurel, Saarlight again went to the sidelines with some physical issues.

"A little splint, feet issues, but all is well,'' McLaughlin said. "She's doing great. She should run very well.''

D'wild Ride, shipping in from New Jersey for trainer Joe Orseno, is the major threat to Saarlight. A 5-year-old daughter of D'wildcat, D'wild Ride has won five of her last seven starts, including a high-priced claimer at Gulfstream on Feb. 28. She came back to finish second to Cassidy's Pride in the $50,000 Harmony Lodge Stakes at Gulfstream on April 2.

Orseno said Cassidy's Pride "made the lead on a very fast, speed-biased racetrack. Nobody pushed her. We put away a horse that came to us and just couldn't get to the winner because she had it her own way.''

Orseno said he thought about running D'wild Ride in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff off that race, but opted to point for other races, such as the My Juliet at Philadelphia Park or the Regret later this summer at Monmouth Park.

Orseno wasn't thrilled to draw the rail, but said he believes his filly has enough tactical speed to gain a good stalking position.

Sapphire Sky comes off a win in the Indistinctly Stakes at Aqueduct at seven furlongs.