04/25/2007 11:00PM

Stay Close has conditioning edge


Stay Close didn't clear his second allowance condition until his 14th start last November and has never even run in a stakes. His good turf form in Florida over the winter, however, might be sufficient to make him the most likely winner in Saturday's $95,000 Henry Clark Stakes at Pimlico.

The Clark, which will be contested at one mile on the turf, drew a field of nine older horses, nearly all of them unproven in stakes competition.

The 5-year-old Stay Close, trained by Mike Zweisler, was extremely consistent over the winter at Tampa Bay Downs, where he posted three consecutive Beyer Speed Figures in the upper 80s, all within 1 point of each other, and won twice.

Although he has been off since March 17, the break is actually a positive sign for Stay Close. The last three times he has come back from similar layoffs, Stay Close has won, including a one-mile allowance race at Laurel last November.

Several others in the Clark lineup merit respect, including the trio of Broadway Producer, My Dream, and Midwatch.

Broadway Producer recorded Beyers similar to Stay Close's while facing second-level allowance runners in his last four starts, three at Gulfstream Park and one most recently at Keeneland. His lone win in six tries on grass came in his first start following a layoff in January.

My Dream's best grass race came when he lost by a head at 97-1 in the Laurel Turf Cup last November. On the downside, his trainer, Flint Stites, is just 1 for 31 with runners switching from dirt to turf the past two seasons.

The 8-year-old Midwatch shows a string of Beyers in the mid- to high 90s on turf, including a win in a small stakes at Colonial Downs last summer. All his good races, however, are in short sprints. Midwatch hasn't raced in a turf route since June 2004, when he finished second in an optional claimer with an 82 Beyer, and his only win going long on grass came against maidens in July 2002.

Changeisgonnacome takes on undefeated filly

In the $80,000 Xtra Heat for 3-year-old fillies going 5 1/2 furlongs, Changeisgonnacome takes a significant class drop to face the unbeaten but lightly raced Your Flame in Me. Both fillies are trained by Mike Trombetta but will race uncoupled.

Most recently, Changeisgonnacome set the pace and tired in the Grade 2 Forward Gal at Gulfstream. Since then, she has twice earned bullets for five-furlong workouts, including a best-of-27 move in 59.20 seconds on Wednesday at Delaware Park.

Your Flame in Me easily won both her starts at 2, including a restricted stakes at Laurel, but has been off since mid-September. Both of her Beyers as a 2-year-old are far faster than anything Changeisgonnacome has posted in 10 lifetime starts.

Trombetta indicated that if all goes well on Saturday, Your Flame in Me could make her next start in the Grade 3 Miss Preakness Stakes at six furlongs on May 18.