05/20/2008 12:00AM

Will speedball filly stop in stretch again?


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - If she loses in the featured race 7 on Thursday at Hollywood Park, it will not be the first time Wickednwackyingrid grasped defeat from the jaws of victory.

The 3-year-old filly has been in a perfect spot in her last five starts - on the lead with only a furlong to run. But no lead is safe. Wickednwackyingrid maintained her advantage just once, a maiden win, and squandered the lead four times by weakening late.

What it means Thursday is that despite a favorable pace scenario against only four rivals Wickednwackyingrid is no cinch to win the six-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-old fillies. But the first-level allowance might be her easiest chance yet, and Wickednwackyingrid is coming off the best race of her career.

Racing on the Hollywood turf for the first time April 30, Wickednwackyingrid dueled through swift fractions (22.49 and 44.94 seconds), put away her pace rivals, opened up by 1 1/2 lengths in midstretch, then got swallowed by the favorite and finished second.

Jack Carava trains Wickednwackyingrid for La Canada Stables. Jockey Martin Pedroza should have her loose on the lead Thursday against Remember Seattle, Jody's Included, Dajolie, and Masterful Miss. The only one with true sprint speed is Dajolie, but she will not be near the lead Thursday.

"Win, lose or draw, I'm going to tell [jockey David Flores] to take her back," trainer Jim Cassidy said. "We've finally got her settled down."

After winning or placing in five of seven starts last year in Europe, Dajolie has fallen short of expectations in two U.S. starts. "I've been disappointed with her," Cassidy admitted. "She trained great for both races, and you can see the result."

The change in strategy is by necessity. Dajolie pressed the pace and finished last in her U.S. debut March 1, then set fast fractions last time in a downhill sprint and finished last again. Cassidy reasons that if she settles early, she will provide a finishing kick.

If the race unfolds as expected, Wickednwackyingrid will lead gate to wire at a short price.

The best betting race Thursday is race 8, a maiden special weight for 2-year-olds, in which second-time starter The Final Roar can upset likely favorite Seismometer.

The Final Roar was compromised by his outside post (10) in his debut two weeks ago. He lost ground pressing the pace, tired in the lane, and lost by 3 1/4 lengths. He drew post 3.