10/16/2002 11:00PM

A B Noodle returns to dirt in Palo Alto

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - A B Noodle didn't make her first start until March 14, but she has blossomed into the best 3-year-old filly in northern California.

She will attempt to put an exclamation point on her season Saturday, when she returns to the dirt for the first time since finishing third in that March 14 maiden race, when she goes postward in the $60,000-added Palo Alto Handicap at Bay Meadows. The one-mile race is for 3-year-old fillies.

Stakes winners Halo Tyra, Ponche De Leona, and Premo Copy are also among the seven entered in the race.

A B Noodle has three stakes victories: the Bay Meadows Oaks, the Lady Morovich, and the Carmel Handicap. The Lady Morovich came against older.

"We want to find out if she's as good on dirt as turf," trainer Chuck Jenda said.

"She's trained brilliantly on dirt."

Jenda passed Monday's $75,000 Harold Ramser, a one-mile turf stakes at Oak Tree, for the Palo Alto.

"That race was not graded, and the money was not that big a thing," he said. "We decided to leave her on her home court."

A B Noodle, who is stabled at Golden Gate Fields, turned in a sensational six-furlong work on dirt two weeks ago, covering the distance in 1:10.40.

If A B Noodle runs as well as Jenda hopes, he'll have even more options. That's particularly important because Golden Gate Fields has cut back on turf stakes.

But Jenda isn't looking beyond Saturday's race and says with winter approaching he may even consider giving A B Noodle some time off after this race.

A B Noodle will have one familiar face running against her. Doc's Lil' Angel finished second ahead of her when both made their debut in that March 14 race, and each has finished in front of the other twice in their four meetings.

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