12/30/2009 12:00AM

In the Slips seeks better start

Barbara D. Livingston
Life Is Sweet, winner of the Ladies' Classic, returns in the San Gorgonio.

ARCADIA, Calif. - A slow start and a full belly may have kept In the Slips from winning the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes at Hollywood Park in her U.S. debut on Nov. 29.

Trainer Jeff Mullins has spent the last month working with In the Slips to prevent a recurrence in Friday's $65,000 Blue Norther Stakes at Santa Anita.

In the Slips raced at the back of a field of eight in the Miesque Stakes and stormed home to miss catching The Mailet by a half-length in the one-mile turf race.

Mullins said that In the Slips gained weight rapidly after her arrival from England in late October, which may have affected her performance.

"She gained weight so fast," he said.

In addition, In the Slips has been schooled in the starting gate in recent weeks.

In the Slips will be favored in the Blue Norther, which is run over a mile for 3-year-old fillies. In England, In the Slips won 2 of 5 starts, with the wins coming in a two-week span in September in races over 6 1/2 furlongs and a mile.

Since the Miesque, In the Slips has worked twice on turf at Santa Anita, including five furlongs in 1:05.40 last Sunday. The time was not fast, but it did impress jockey Garrett Gomez.

"Garrett breezed her, and although the work was slow he said it was the best breeze she's had," Mullins said. "He's breezed her four times."

Owned by Michael House, In the Slips is the only starter in a field of seven to have placed in a graded stakes and the only two-time winner.

Forbidden Paradise is making her third consecutive stakes appearance, having finished ninth in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes and sixth in the Miesque Stakes. She won a maiden race on turf at Del Mar in August.

Two other fillies have won maiden races on turf - Quadriga at Ellis Park in July and Glory Pride at Hollywood Park on Nov. 25.

Rosario takes another day off

Joel Rosario, who won riding titles at three major meetings in Southern California in 2009, was off his mounts for a second consecutive racing day Wednesday. Rosario did not ride Monday.

Earlier this week, Rosario's agent, Vic Stauffer, said the jockey was battling illness. Wednesday morning, Stauffer indicated that Rosario would ride, but the jockey was announced as off his mounts later that morning.

"He said that he's still under the weather," Stauffer said at lunchtime Wednesday. "He called me and said, 'I don't feel well.' He doesn't feel like he's physically capable of performing at his best."

Rosario, 21, has won with 2 of 13 mounts at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, which began last Saturday.

Life Is Sweet back in San Gorgonio

Life Is Sweet, winner of the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic here in November, will have as many as eight opponents when she makes her first start in nearly two months in Saturday's $150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap.

The Grade 2 San Gorgonio is run over 1 1/8 miles on turf and will be Life Is Sweet's first start on the surface since a second in the Grade 2 Sands Point Stakes at Belmont Park in May 2008. She raced on synthetic tracks in Southern California in 2009, winning four stakes and finishing third against males in the Hollywood Gold Cup.

Owned by Marty and Pam Wygod and trained by John Shirreffs, Life Is Sweet will share top weight of 122 pounds with Diamondrella. Trained by Gary Stevens, Diamondrella won two Grade 1 turf races in 2009 - the Just a Game Stakes at Belmont Park and the First Lady Stakes at Keeneland.