09/22/2009 12:00AM

Steam Iron gets distance test


POMONA, Calif. - Bettors speculating on the race 10 feature Thursday at Fairplex Park face a dilemma - back lone front-runner Steam Iron who might be outclassed, or closer Powerofvoodoo who faces a compromising pace scenario?

Seven California-bred fillies and mares entered the allowance/optional $40,000 claimer, and the only requirement to wager on either is a leap of faith.

It is easy to like lone front-runners such as Steam Iron. They get loose and comfortable setting an easy pace, and they often get brave. Steam Iron, however, has been a sprinter throughout her 4-for-18 career, and even trainer Gary Stute is unsure about 1 1/16 miles.

"I know she can win sprinting, but I hope she can route," Stute said.

Thursday is a good time to try, even if Steam Iron is facing tougher competition than two weeks ago when she won a $20,000 claiming sprint for 3-year-old fillies. Steam Iron and jockey Martin Garcia will set the pace, trying to win for the second time this meet.

If the competition or distance proves insurmountable, then Powerofvoodoo is the likely winner. But how much trust can anyone have in a mare with just 2 wins from 38 starts? Not much.

Powerofvoodoo "ran the race of her life last time," according to trainer Barry Abrams. He is right. She also benefitted from a three-way pace battle up front. Fast fractions doomed the speed, and Powerofvoodoo was in the right place at the right time Aug. 28 at Del Mar, where she rallied to a one-length win.

"Sometimes these kind of horses, when they learn how to win, they win again," Abrams said.

He hopes. Alonso Quinonez rides Powerofvoodoo, who will roll late in a race not likely to unfold at a quick pace.

While the others in the field are modest, none are impossible. If Steam Iron does not stay the distance and Powerofvoodoo reverts to losing habits, Lunch Money could win her first start since being claimed by Doug O'Neill. Lunch Money is a deep closer, while the second O'Neill starter has speed. There Goes Gee Gee will be positioned closest to the pacesetter.

Others in the field include Warren's Appeal, June My Love, and Twodollarstowin. The feature is race 10 on an 11-race card. Bettors looking for the proverbial "sure thing" will find much to like in race 6, a maiden-claimer in which Cat Calloway is expected to be strongly favored.