09/18/2007 11:00PM

Bai and Bai figures difficult to beat

EmailPOMONA, Calif. - The stakes winner Bai and Bai enters the $100,000 Las Madrinas Handicap on Friday at Fairplex Park as such an utter standout that one wonders - what is a filly like her doing in a place like this?

Sandwiched between Del Mar and the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita, the 16-day race meet at the Los Angeles County Fair is usually a time of rest for graded stakes-caliber runners such as Bai and Bai.

But trainer Craig Dollase has seen the benefits of prepping for graded stakes by racing at the fair.

"I did it three years ago with Pt's Grey Eagle," he said. "We ran him in the Foothill Stakes - he got beat - then he came back and won the Grade 1 Ancient Title."

Bai and Bai will use the 1 1/16-mile Las Madrinas to prep for the Grade 1 Lady's Secret on Oct. 7 at Santa Anita, and there are two valid reasons for running Friday at the fair.

"Hopefully we'll have a little fitness edge for the Lady's Secret," Dollase said.

Secondly, there is no reason to pass a $100,000 stakes with a filly that looks tough to beat. Bai and Bai scored a convincing win last out at Del Mar in a mile turf stakes for Cal-breds, and she previously finished second to Nashoba's Key in the Grade 2 Clement L. Hirsch Handicap.

Bai and Bai is owned by the Robert and Beverly Lewis Trust; jockey Aaron Gryder will be aboard the 120-pound highweight. Bai and Bai has won 7 races and $486,318 from 18 starts.

Eight fillies and mares entered the Las Madrinas, and Dona Amelia and Sweet Belle are the main rivals to the favorite. Dona Amelia finished second in a minor stakes last out at Del Mar, earning a 95 Beyer Speed Figure that puts her nearly equal to Bai and Bai. Eduardo Inda trains Dona Amelia, who will ridden by Joel Rosario.

Sweet Belle wired allowance fillies and mares on turf last time and will keep the pace honest under Tyler Baze. The presence of Sweet Belle compromises Velvet Moonlite, who set a slow pace 12 days earlier when she won the $63,000 E.B. Johnston Stakes here.

Logan Avenue Linda has won 5 of 12, and trainer Mike Mitchell has aimed her to the Las Madrinas ever since a second-level win on the Del Mar turf one month ago. Others entered include Watch Me Win, Fortunate Event, and Quick Little Miss.

The Las Madrinas is race 12. Forecasters have called for a chance of rain.