02/07/2008 1:00AM

Throbbin' Heart vs. Affluent Lady in Marshua

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Throbbin' Heart, who flashed high speed in a Grade 2 stakes last month in Florida, and Affluent Lady, who romped by 17 lengths in her career debut a month ago at Philadelphia Park, are the two most intriguing runners in a field of seven 3-year-old fillies for Saturday's $70,000 Marshua Stakes at Laurel Park.

Throbbin' Heart was sent to Gulfstream Park after easily winning the six-furlong Xtra Heat over Aqueduct's inner track in early December. Her trainer, Steve Asmussen, brought her back to New York after she dueled for a half-mile and faded badly in the Grade 2 Old Hat on Jan. 12.

Handicappers must weigh Throbbin' Heart's proven class and high-percentage connections with Affluent Lady's highly impressive lone start.

Based at Philly Park with trainer Ned Allard, Affluent Lady was lightly regarded as a first-time starter, sent off at 15-1 in a field of nine maidens going 6 1/2 furlongs, a half-furlong longer than Saturday's Marshua.

The fast fractions she set of 21.61 and 44.59 seconds were comparable to the fractions of 21.63 and 44.37 the 4-year-old colt Marvel Wood set one race later on the card in a first-level allowance for older horses.

In addition, two fillies who finished behind Affluent Lady - the distant runner-up Heaven Sent and seventh-place Emma Z - each came back to win a maiden race next time out.

Affluent Lady was awarded an 83 Beyer Speed Figure, 8 points higher than Throbbin' Heart earned for her win in the Xtra Heat and slightly better than the par of 80 for the last nine runnings of the Marshua.

Besides Throbbin' Heart and Affluent Lady, the only other filly in the field who has come close to the Beyer par for the Marshua is Outside Lane. She cleared her first allowance condition at Philly Park last time out and comes from the barn of John Servis, who won the 2003 Marshua with Ladyecho.