02/01/2009 1:00AM

Sapphire Sky seeks clean trip in stakes


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Sapphire Sky's fourth-place finish in the restricted East View Stakes on Dec. 7 could be attributed more to her trip than an inability to get two turns. The fact her second attempt in a route race will come against open company in Sunday's $65,000 Wistful Stakes at Aqueduct may only serve to increase her odds.

Sapphire Sky was one of six 3-year-old fillies entered in the Wistful, scheduled for a mile and 70 yards over the inner track. The Wistful bridges the gap from last month's Busanda Stakes to the Busher Stakes here Feb. 22.

As a daughter of Sky Mesa out of the Silver Charm mare Charm Away, Sapphire Sky certainly has the breeding to be a route horse. In the East View, Sapphire Sky broke a step slowly and was rank while between horses going into the first turn under Ramon Dominguez. She raced three wide early on down the backside, then was forced even wider as Sarah Accomplished, the pacesetter, was getting out down the backside and entering the far turn.

Sapphire Sky continued wide around the turn and into the stretch, and even had a horse cut in front of her in the lane. It all added up to a 7 1/2-length loss to Don't Forget Gil.

"Ramon came back and apologized that she had such a rough trip and said not to be afraid of running her back against that same kind," said David Donk, trainer of Sapphire Sky.

Donk noted that Sapphire Sky spiked a fever the day after the East View, which may have been another contributing factor to a disappointing effort.

With Dominguez at Gulfstream Park on Sunday, Donk has tabbed Chuck Lopez to ride. In a race without much pace, expect Lopez to send Sapphire Sky, whose two victories have come in front-running fashion.

Chocolate Pop finished second to the Donk-trained Pumpkin Shell in the Busanda Stakes here Jan. 10. After that race, Chocolate Pop was sold privately by Winning Move Stable and trainer Gary Contessa to Charles Wacker III, who turned her over to Chad Brown.

"I've been watching that filly for a long time," said Brown, noting he liked Chocolate Pop's second-place finish to Justwhistledixie in the Ruthless as much as her runner-up finish in the Busanda. "When I saw she could go long that only increased my interest to buy her."

What a Pear, a New York-bred who is 2 for 2, steps into open company for the first time. Completing the field are Subprime, a possible pace factor, McVictory, and Heckuva Hunter.