06/18/2004 12:00AM

Small field benefits Cypriata


CALGARY, Alberta - Shy Lil came from far back in a field of nine 3-year-old fillies to win the Lilac with a determined bid on the outside, but she faces a much different task Sunday in the Penny Ridge. The defection of five of the nominees to the $40,000 Penny Ridge, including the speedy Alta Aire and Down to Dixie who just missed in the one-mile Lilac, would seem to turn this race in favor of Cypriata.

Mike Iammarino was criticized for his last ride aboard Cypriata. He chased fast fractions in the Lilac after breaking from the extreme outside post, but he gets a chance to redeem himself on the closing day of this meeting. Cypriata will not be forced to race wide in the 1 1/16-mile Penny Ridge, and Iammarino, who turned in a textbook ride to get Bubblegum Kid home at 27-1 in the Herald Gold Plate a week ago, has options to consider. One option is to try to go wire to wire, but a more probable scenario is Cypriata stalking Classa Red Wine in the early going.

Waikoloa, the fourth entrant in the Penny Ridge, has not been a factor in her three starts here, after displaying promise by winning the Freedom of the City at a mile last fall at Northlands Park. Her late-running style also will be compromised in this short field.

Earlier in the nine-race program, Sweet Monarch, a champion 3-year-old filly on this circuit two years ago, takes her second step along the comeback trail after missing the 2003 season with a tendon injury. In her year's debut on June 5, Sweet Monarch closed well under leading rider Quincy Welch to grab second spot in a one-mile allowance. She faces similar competition here, shortening up to the sprint distance of six furlongs.