04/23/2008 11:00PM

Stay Close and Starvinsky both fit winning patterns


Stay Close and Starvinsky both seek to repeat successful patterns in the $50,000 Henry S. Clark Stakes at Pimlico.

A year ago, Stay Close prepped for the one-mile Clark by dominating an allowance race in mid-March at Tampa Bay Downs. Shipped north by trainer Michael Zwiesler, Stay Close followed up by winning the Clark by 1 1/2 lengths as the 7-5 favorite.

Now 6, Stay Close comes into the Clark, named for the longtime Maryland trainer who died at age 95 in 1999, off a similar allowance romp last month at Tampa Bay. Given six weeks to recover from his career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 97, Stay Close seems well capable of capturing the Clark for the second straight year.

His main rival in a field of 10 older horses is Starvinsky, a four-time winner on turf last season at 3, including the Nick Shuk at Delaware Park.

Although trainer Bruce Jackson is just 1 for 11 with turf horses first time back following an extended layoff, that one winner was Starvinsky, who returned from 4 1/2 months on the sidelines to win a first-level allowance at Delaware last July, part of a four-race winning streak.

Ramazutti and Kona Blend merit respect, based on their performances in graded stakes company.

The 6-year-old Ramazutti was third in last year's Grade 3 Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs, but a mile may be too short for him.

Kona Blend, a 5-year-old now in the barn of Rodney Jenkins, has been idle since finishing third in the Grade 3 Fayette over Keeneland's Polytrack last October. He is 3 for 3 on turf, including a pair of restricted stakes at Colonial Downs.