02/02/2009 12:00AM

Best horse unproven on Pro-Ride


ARCADIA, Calif. - The consistent allowance filly Carmel Coffee stayed so busy during Hollywood Park's eight-week fall meet that the only right move was to give her a break.

"I ran her three times in a short meet, so she needed some time," said Carmel Coffee's trainer, Paul Aguirre.

On Wednesday at Santa Anita, her vacation is over. Carmel Coffee runs a mile on Pro-Ride in race 7, a second-level allowance that marks the first start in 47 days for the lightly raced 5-year-old.

"She's trained great and she should be fitter off her last route," Aguirre said, referring to a runner-up finish by Carmel Coffee under similar conditions Dec. 19 at Hollywood. Aguirre stopped short of total endorsement, however.

"My only concern is they [all] could use an out over the surface," Aguirre said.

Stabled at Hollywood, Carmel Coffee has neither raced nor trained on Pro-Ride. Will it matter? Not if the best horse wins.

Carmel Coffee, 2 for 6 and in the money every start, should get a good trip under Clinton Potts. Her rivals include front-runner Spinning Yarns, who has won two straight on grass; front-runner Sheza Maneater; deep closer Divine Legacy; and stretch-outs Modification and Queenofalldiamonds.

A 5-year-old by Holy Bull, Carmel Coffee is a half-sister to late-developing Grade 1 winner Premium Tap, and Aguirre hopes lightly raced Carmel Coffee will have an extended campaign.

"She's never had anything serious wrong with her," he said.

Carmel Coffee has been favored in her last five starts and is likely to be favored again. And while the significance of race 7 will not be immediate, a turf allowance early on the Wednesday card has ramifications on a Grade 1 race on Saturday.

Race 2 Wednesday is a one-mile, first-level allowance for 3-year-old grass fillies, led by the Jim Cassidy-trained April Pride. She finished second in the $78,000 Blue Norther Stakes on Dec. 28, beaten only a length by Navigator.

Navigator is the rapidly improving filly scheduled to face Stardom Bound on Saturday in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes. A win by April Pride would flatter the form of Navigator.

To win, April Pride must catch likely pacesetter Burg Berg. She wired maidens on the downhill course Jan. 17, and will try the same strategy Wednesday.

Other starters include comebacker Vikkilee, dropper Dave's Revenge, Miss Redoubled, Where's Scarlet, and Malusita.