07/19/2008 12:00AM

Synnin and Grinnin tries turf


DEL MAR, Calif. - The racing future of Synnin and Grinnin is finally looking up.

After losing her first five starts, Synnin and Grinnin won two claiming races in the spring at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park. When she starts in an optional claimer over five furlongs on turf at Del Mar on Monday, she will be after the winner's share of a $59,000 purse, the largest prize of her career. The race for California-breds will be Synnin and Grinnin's first start on turf.

The recent wins - against maiden claimers and a $25,000 claimer for nonwinners of two - may not seem like much, but the style in which she won has encouraged trainer Howard Zucker and owner Brad Penny, the star pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"Her numbers look good enough against some of the allowance California-breds," Zucker said. "The only question is whether she'll take to the grass. She likes the synthetic track and many of those take to the grass."

Synnin and Grinnin was purchased for $105,000 at the 2005 California October yearling sale at Barretts, the most expensive filly at that sale. In her first four starts in late 2006 and early 2007, her best result was a fourth-place finish. At the time, Zucker detected that something was wrong with the Beau Genius filly.

"She was taking some peculiar steps when she switched leads," Zucker said.

After extensive tests, Synnin and Grinnin was found to have a bone chip in a knee. The whole episode kept her sidelined for 14 months.

"It didn't show until we kept looking for why she wasn't finishing her races," Zucker said.

Synnin and Grinnin was a troubled fourth in her comeback at Santa Anita in March of this year, before winning a six-furlong race there on April 19.

"She's had three nice races," Zucker said. "As long as her nerves don't get in front of her, she's pretty effective."

Synnin and Grinnin will show speed, although Zucker would prefer she go a little slower than the half-mile split time of 43.98 seconds she ran when she beat claimers at Hollywood Park on May 24.

A fast pace would aid Unusual Spirit, who has not started since winning a maiden race on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on March 31 in her second career start.

"She got sick on me or I would have run at Hollywood Park," trainer Jerry Fanning said. "She acts like a nice filly. It might be a little short for her."