01/23/2009 1:00AM

Senior Rita Lady finds softer spot


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Rick Violette waited more than three weeks before finally starting his first horse at the 2009 Gulfstream Park meet. But it should take him less than 95 seconds to get into the winner's circle, the time it figures to take Senior Rita Lady to defeat 10 rivals in Sunday's $44,000 allowance feature, scheduled for one mile on the turf.

Senior Rita Lady returns to a second-level allowance after turning in three straight respectable starts against stakes company to close out her 3-year-old campaign. The series of races included a second-place finish in the one-mile Pebbles on Oct. 13 and ended with a wide-running fourth-place finish in the Rare Blend on Nov. 5.

"I entered her in the last stakes but she got excluded," said Violette, referring to the Marshua's River on Jan. 11. "And that might have been a blessing because it gave me a couple of more weeks to get her looking as good as she does right now. She should be plenty fit enough despite having been away for a while, and this looks like a good spot to start her 4-year-old season. We'll just have to wait and see where she takes us from here."

Senior Rita Lady rallied from near the rear of the pack in each of her last two starts, but Violette is hoping jockey Alan Garcia will have her a little closer to the pace on Sunday.

"She got shuffled a little too far back in her last couple of races and I'd like to see her not have to do that much work," said Violette. "Obviously she's got a big late kick."

The biggest question mark in the race is Thoughtless Moment, an Irish-bred daughter of Pivotal who will make her U.S. debut for trainer Christophe Clement. Thoughtless Moment was listed-stakes-placed in 2007 but made only three starts last season and none since finishing a late-running sixth at Leopardstown on Sept. 7.

Thoughtless Moment will be ridden by Edgar Prado while racing on Lasix for the first time.

Flibberjibit also figures to attract plenty of attention coming off a troubled third-place finish going 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 4. The outing was the first for Flibberjibit, a former $15,000 claimer, since being transferred to trainer Marty Wolfson's barn following the conclusion of a 2008 campaign during which she captured 6 of 9 starts.