12/05/2005 12:00AM

Angel Island's top three all bear watching


ALBANY, Calif. - The top three finishers in Saturday's $59,050 Angel Island Stakes at Golden Gate Fields all came out of the race in good shape and figure to be tough down the line.

Thrilling Victory lived up to her name, making up more than seven lengths in the final quarter-mile to beat favored Lunachick by a nose in the six-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies. Lunachick, who hadn't run since winning the Vallejo here on May 29, needed the race, but didn't lose the race as much as Thrilling Victory won it. Lunachick ran her final furlong in 12.87 seconds, but Thrilling Victory had a good ground-saving trip before angling two wide for smooth sailing down the lane as she won her second straight stakes.

It was the third stakes victory in a row for this track's leading trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer. The previous week, he stretched out sprinter Trickey Trevor to win the Forty Niner and watched his 2-year-old Cause to Believe unleash a furious closing kick to win the Mill Valley Stakes at six furlongs.

Thrilling Victory had won a turf route for her initial stakes victory, but owner Ted Aroney suggested that Hollendorfer sprint the filly. Hollendorfer considered the idea and decided to try it.

After running third to older rivals in something of a prep, she came back to beat her favored stablemate Heavenly Humor and a strong field of older fillies and mares in the Albany in her previous start.

"She can do a lot of different things and run on any kind of track," said Hollendorfer, who would like to keep Thrilling Victory sprinting.

"It depends upon the opportunities, but she can probably run 6 1/2, seven, or a mile. When horses are good, they can do a lot of things. She has faced some good runners, but I think she has her best ahead of her."

Trainer Steve Miyadi was worried that Lunachick might be a little short. He expects an even better effort next out.

As well as Thrilling Victory and Lunachick ran, Double D Appeal, third beaten 1 1/4 lengths, may have run just as well in her first start since a victory in the Nursery Stakes at Hollywood Park on May 16, 2004.

"She broke a little slowly, or she might have been more of a factor," trainer Jeff Bonde said. "That's what happens after you've been off a year and a half."

Bonde will look for a nonwinners-of-two allowance race for the filly, but both he and Hollendorfer can keep the Sunshine Millions in mind. The Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint will be at Santa Anita this year, and Thrilling Victory is a California-bred, while Double D Appeal is a Florida-bred.

Solid cast in Larkspur Stakes

Saturday's $50,000-added Larkspur Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds, will be hard-pressed to match the quality of the Angel Island, but it does have some interesting runners among the 15 nominated.

Power Wave, Seattles Best Joe, and Wind Water are multiple stakes winners. Diligent Prospect, Stellar Magic, and Swiss Lad are stakes winners. Funny Flyer, Ransom Demanded, and Wasserman are stakes-placed.

Seattles Best Joe, who beat older horses in his previous start in the Sausalito, appears the one to beat.

Stellar Magic will be making his first start since finishing 10th in the El Camino Real Derby on March 12. He is undefeated in two tries at the distance with both wins coming at this track.

Close family

Brandi's Starlite, a 2-year-old filly who won by six lengths in a $12,500 maiden claimer at five furlongs Sunday, is by Brandon's Starlite out of Royal Debbie. Santella George is the sire of both her sire and dam.

The California-bred Brandi's Starlite was claimed from owner-breeder-trainer Richard Miller by trainer Art Sherman for owner Robert Bone.

Rider gets days, trainers fined

Jockey Carlos Silva will miss five days, Dec. 11 through Dec. 17, after being disqualified from third to seventh aboard Money Is Boss in Saturday's second race for causing interference on the backstretch of that race.

Trainers John Sadler and Wendell McDaniel were fined $300. McDaniel's fine was for failure to have his horse Mist in the Dark treated with Lasix, necessitating a late scratch in the sixth race Nov. 19. Sadler was fined for failure to report the gelding of Cousin Marty before the fourth race Dec. 3.

Charities in action

Glen Ellen Vocational Academy's annual stallion-season fund-raiser begins Saturday and runs through Dec. 17. All proceeds go to the academy, northern California's only nonprofit horse rescue and rehabilitation facility. Information is available at www.glenellenfarms.com/geva or by calling (707) 527-8092.

Unwrapped children's gifts can be deposited at bins around the racetrack to provide presents for the annual Christmas party for grooms and their families scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 15, in the Turf Club. In addition to gifts, tax-deductible donations can be made to the Race Track Chaplaincy of America.