BARCELONA should use her pace to run rivals into the ground in this afternoon’s ninth event for three-year-old fillies, non-winners of two races, at six and a half furlongs. Though sired by Natural Selection, who has thrown derby winners PERFECT NEIGHBOUR and SHE’S A MANEATER, plus FUTURE KING, disqualified after passing the post in front two years ago, BARCELONA’s dam is Buyabook, who is also the mother of former sprint champion POKER STAR, which appears to be her dominant gene. In five starts to date, including a brave attempt at eight and a half furlongs, BARCELONA, a comfortable winner at five and a half on her debut in April, seems, at best, to be a sprinter who can get middle distances if allowed to have things her way on the lead. With no genuine speed among her 13 opponents, BARCELONA, who is nicely in at the weights with 115lb and looking better at exercise each week, would have preferred it shorter but gets a race in which she can control the pace against her main rival, ACKEE PIE. Richard Azan’s ACKEE PIE last raced August 11, chasing COUNCIL OF TRENT all day in a nine-furlong-and-25-yards race won by STORM, eventually weakening into fourth place behind INNOVATOR, who had stumbled at the start, and third-place VIKUNA, a 45-1 outsider. ACKEE PIE had recently returned from a four-month lay-up and continues to avoid the round course at exercise, galloping 1:01.3 from the gate at five furlongs straight, which is never a good sign. During ACKEE PIE’s absence, BARCELONA debuted on April 28 and raced five times. Though champion trainer Wayne DaCosta gave her two months off, she returns active in the mornings, galloping five and a half furlongs at exercise for three consecutive weeks. Her last two gallops were bullet workouts, 1:07.2 on August 31, and a five-furlong spin, 1:01.1, last Thursday morning, signalling DaCosta’s intent to take the race by the ‘scruff’ of the neck from the word go. Though ACKEE PIE has faced better horses, even placing sixth in the Thornbird Stakes behind 1000 Guineas winner DISABILITY CHARM, her questionable exercise habits – accompanied by a pony in the mornings and spending time in the pool – make her susceptible to BARCELONA’s speed at six and a half furlongs. Going eight and a half furlongs on July 7, BARCELONA carried splits of 47.3, 59.3, 1:12.2 and 1:25.0, leading for seven furlongs, before being overhauled by AXLE ROD and INNOVATOR, who barely relegated her into third place. Omar Walker won aboard BARCELONA on debut and has, no doubt, been putting her through her paces at exercise, which should give him a fair enough idea of how to use her speed at six and a half furlongs.