05/01/2007 11:00PM

Ann T's troubles seem over


ALBANY, Calif. - When Ann T arrived in trainer Jim Hilling's barn, he gave her the once-over, followed by the twice-over. The result was a victory in her first Northern California start. On Friday, Ann T goes for win No. 2 at Golden Gate Fields when she meets seven rivals in a $40,000 starter allowance for fillies and mares at one mile over the turf.

Ann T came to Northern California after four unsuccessful races down south. She spent two months in Hilling's barn before her first start for him.

"When she came to us, she wouldn't eat," said Hilling, who fixed a mouth problem.

Then he brought in a chiropractor, and, suddenly, "she got better and better."

Hilling's wife, Kit, convinced Hilling to try ear muffs on Ann T, which also seemed to help.

Ann T won a $32,000 maiden claimer at Bay Meadows on April 7 in her first start on turf and around two turns. She quickly grabbed the lead under David Lopez and extended her advantage throughout, coasting home by 5 1/2 lengths.

"I was surprised she grabbed the lead that easy in her first race," Hilling said. "We went a route and went cheaper, but she did it effortlessly."

The victory may have paid additional dividends, boosting the filly's confidence.

"She's worked well since her win," Hilling said of a pair of easy works of 48.40 seconds for a half-mile and 1:00.60 for five furlongs. "I told David just to sit there last time, and she went a minute and change."

Hilling has trained a number of horses for Ann T's owner-breeder Edward Kono, including several by Ann T's dam, Collect Your Bet.

"The owner's a classy gentleman, and now he's starting to breed to a little better class of horse," Hilling said.

Ann T's sire is Siberian Summer, who stands for $7,500.

Only one of Ann T's rivals has won on turf, Andover the Cash, who is 1 for 17 on the surface and just lost by a nose at this level. Awesome Girl and Blue Diligence both come off a runner-up effort on the turf, while Looksflip'n' and Apollo Gal both ran third on the turf in their previous start.

Ann T may get some pace pressure Friday from Light Fingers, who is stretching out, and Blue Diligence.

Hilling isn't concerned and will tell Lopez just to let Ann T run comfortably.

"I don't think she has to be in front," he said.