04/30/2004 11:00PM

Synco Peach steps up

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CHICAGO - April 19 was to have been a watershed day for Synco Peach, the day she would match racing skills with open company for the first time. But when a statebred allowance spot came up the next day, her trainer, Percy Scherbenske, did the only reasonable thing, plugging Synco Peach into the softer spot. And so, for the third time in five starts, Synco Peach easily handled opponents of the Illinois-bred variety.

Now, there is no place to hide. Synco Peach has won three Illinois-bred races. She is out of conditions, and it is either statebred stakes horses or open allowance horses with which Synco Peach must tangle. Monday, in the featured eighth race here, Synco Peach goes in an open third-level allowance. The race, also open to $35,000 claimers, and carded for six furlongs, drew a good field of 10 fillies and mares.

But Hawthorne observers will have noted a trend of Illinois-breds making the jump from statebred to open races. On Friday, a gelding named Johnathan made it, rallying relentlessly for a victory at this same class level.

And Synco Peach seems capable. She knocked out her second Illinois allowance condition less than two weeks ago, but her race - a galloping four-length win - was more like an afternoon workout. In fact, it was reminiscent of the 5 1/2-length pasting Synco Peach laid on first-level Illinois allowance horses a year ago.

In short, this filly has given every indication that she can run with open horses - at least at Hawthorne.

Bettors who believe figure to get square odds, since I Love Lisa probably will be bet down to favoritism. I Love Lisa also won her last start, an easy victory over open second-level allowance sprinters, but the day she raced, April 18, was a major inside-speed day here, and I Love Lisa took full advantage of the bias. Monday, she has the rail - and plenty of speed to her outside that will complicate her task.

The horse Synco Peach might have to beat is another Illinois-bred, Ravalli Girl.

From the Tom Tomillo barn - thick in the race for leading trainer here - Ravalli Girl finished second in her most recent start, the $91,000 Governor's Lady Handicap, beaten only by the Grade 3 winner Summer Mis. Ravalli Girl has never been sharper, and she has a stalking running style that might work well in this race.