06/11/2001 12:00AM

'Ballerina' tough on grass

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Blushing Ballerina, who finished sixth in the Bay Meadows Oaks May 19, is the one to beat in the $32,000 allowance feature at Bay Meadows Wednesday.

Ten 3-year-old fillies entered the mile grass race.

Blushing Ballerina, who is by the English sire Jimmy Barnie, has raced well in all four of her career grass races and has proved to be much better on turf than dirt. After a poor northern California debut on the dirt last March, trainer Brian Koriner dropped her into a $20,000 claiming race on turf, and she won by 7 1/2 lengths without ever really being asked to run.

Obviously, Koriner was just "stealing" in that race because he needed to get her on the turf, and she fortunately was not claimed. Off that scintillating performance, he tried her in the Oaks, and while she finished sixth, she was only beaten four lengths.

She should find these easier, and she will be coupled in the wagering with Silver Secret, who also figures as a strong contender. She won a $32,000 claiming race on the turf by 7 1/2 lengths in handy fashion at Golden Gate March 24. Since then, she has finished seventh for a $70,000 tag on the grass at Hollywood Park and second in a $40,000 claiming race on the dirt. Koriner also trains Silver Secret and the duo forms a potent entry.

Others who must be considered include Planoncometbebopin, who has won two of her three career starts but will be trying turf for the first time; Joanne Apple, who won a $25,000 claiming race convincingly May 16 despite jumping shadows, and the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained duo of Karla June and Excessful, who both won straight maiden races on the grass.

Baze in command

Jockey Russell Baze, seeking his 25th consecutive Bay Meadows riding title, will enter the final week of the 2001 spring meeting Wednesday with a commanding 85-76 lead over Jason Lumpkins.

Lumpkins won four races Sunday, including the $100,000 Ascot Handicap aboard longshot Sir Alfred, compared with two for Baze. But it appeared to be too little, too late, as Baze had won three on Saturday to zero for Lumpkins to open an 11-winner margin. Two weeks ago, Lumpkins had a six-winner lead.

Baze has won the jockey title at every Bay Meadows and Golden Gate meeting at which he has participated since 1981. This is only the third time he has been seriously challenged late in a meeting, and on one of those occasions he missed a good portion of the meeting because of injury.

* Jose Arriaga, who is seventh in the jockey standings at Bay Meadows, has been handed a five-day suspension beginning Friday. Arriaga was cited for altering course without sufficient clearance in the stretch and causing interference while aboard Frigid Pleasure in the eighth race Thursday.