12/19/2006 12:00AM

Siberian Lily still improving

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It has been six years since trainer Carl Bowman wintered at Fair Grounds with the Grade 1-placed mare Lu Ravi. Bowman's stable houses fewer horses than it did in the Lu Ravi era, but among his current Fair Grounds string is Siberian Lily, a filly who has a chance to develop, if not into another Lu Ravi, then at least into a stakes performer.

For now, however, Siberian Lily remains an allowance-class horse, and she starts Thursday in Fair Grounds's featured ninth race. For third-level allowance horses or $50,000 claimers, the race is at six furlongs, a distance shorter than Bowman would prefer. Siberian Lily, bred and owned by Yoshio Fujita - Lu Ravi's owner - has won three of her four career starts, her lone loss coming in her only two-turn try, a one-mile second-level allowance race this past summer at Ellis Park. But Siberian Lily had terrible trouble that day, and Bowman feels fairly certain that her best races will come at longer distances.

"I think she's a pretty good filly," said Bowman. "I've really looked to run her long, but I can't get any races to go for her. I think she'll be a better filly going long, because she relaxes so well."

Siberian Lily, a daughter of Grand Slam who is the first foal from Black Waterlily, who raced at Fair Grounds herself, has plenty of speed, having won her career debut by more than five lengths last May at Churchill. More recently, she captured a second-level sprint allowance race there by a length, rating in fourth before surging to the front, and the speed she has shown running short suggests Siberian Lily could be special racing around two turns - though Bowman is hesitant to forecast her ceiling.

"I'm going to give her plenty of opportunity to develop," he said. "If she will run long, I think she will be a nice horse, but I'm always reticent to predict what these horses can do until they actually achieve success."

To succeed Thursday, Siberian Lily must beat Vote Early, another horse who won a second-level allowance at Churchill in her last start. Vote Early, from the barn of Steve Flint, flopped on Keeneland's Polytrack in October, but has won three straight on conventional dirt tracks.

The two Churchill horses face a rise in class, but others in the Thursday feature are taking at least minimal class drops. Space Cruise has made three stakes starts since clearing her second allowance condition; Comalagold exits a pair of stakes tries. Daddy's Petunia last raced in a Grade 3, but that was way back in March at Oaklawn, and Daddy's Petunia appears to be prepping for a route race.