01/09/2007 12:00AM

Sciametta has good shot to win two


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Thursday’s feature race at Gulfstream Park, a $48,000 second-level allowance event on the turf for fillies and mares, proved so popular it turned into co-features after attracting 15 entries and being split by racing secretary Dave Bailey as the fifth and seventh races on the card.

Bailey’s decision to split the 1 1/8-mile turf race was a good one for trainer Anthony Sciametta and jockey John Velazquez, who will now be able to participate in both divisions, with Cassydora and Almonsoon.

Cassydora, a listed stakes winner and Group 1-placed as a 3-year-old in her native England in 2005, will be among the favorites in the fifth and perhaps slightly weaker split of Thursday’s feature. Cassydora has not started since finishing 11th in Woodbine’s Grade 1 E. P. Taylor Stakes in October of 2005. Trained by Christophe Clement at the time, she currently resides in the barn of Todd Pletcher but will run under Sciametta’s name with Pletcher remaining under suspension until early next month.

Cassydora has been training steadily over both the turf and dirt courses at Palm Meadows but could well need a race following the long layoff. If so, Fantastic Shirl, another horse who has changed barns since her last start, looks like the one to beat.

Fantastic Shirl has gone from trainer Bill Mott to Kiaran McLaughlin since finishing second under similar second-level optional claiming conditions at Churchill Downs on Nov. 22. A daughter of Fantastic Light, Fantastic Shirl was an easy 4 1/2-length entry-level allowance winner for Mott at Churchill Downs early last summer.

Sciametta and Velazquez also have a strong hand in the second division with Almonsoon, who is coming off a 15 3/4-length first-level allowance win over a sloppy main track in her 2006 finale. Almonsoon will be trying grass for only the second time in her career, but took well to the surface last fall when second going 1 1/2 miles over yielding turf at Keeneland.

Among the other top contenders in the seventh race are Rosinka, an Irish-bred filly coming off a game win in her only U.S. start, which came at Keeneland in late October, and Cologne, who returns to allowance company after being overmatched in the Grade 2 Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct.