10/20/2004 11:00PM

Big plans for another ex-claimer

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Moscow Burning has won three stakes since being claimed for $25,000 last year.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Turning ex-claimers into stakes runners is becoming a habit for owners Jeff Mariani and Dallas Van Kempen.

Last year, they claimed Moscow Burning for $25,000. She has subsequently won three stakes and is pre-entered in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Lone Star Park next Saturday.

Sunday at Santa Anita, Mariani and Van Kempen plan to start the ex-claimer Word Girl in the minor $75,000 Anoakia Stakes for 2-year-old fillies over six furlongs.

Racing in Northern California, Word Girl has won 2 of 4 starts and has never been worse than third. After finishing second and third in her first two starts, she beat maidens at the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa on Aug. 8. In her next start, Word Girl won a six-furlong allowance race by three-quarters of a length at Bay Meadows on Sept. 24.

Trained by Casey Doyle, Word Girl finished second in a maiden race for $12,500 claimers at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton on July 1, her career debut. She has not been entered for a claiming price since that race.

"She really wants to route," Van Kempen said. "When she routes, she'll be better. She puts in a devastating run at the end. Every time you ask her, she's got more. She's not a one-run thing."

Word Girl races for Mariani and Van Kempen's daughter Carlee. If Word Girl succeeds in the Anoakia, she may be shipped to trainer Jim Cassidy at Santa Anita. Van Kampen has set the $100,000 Miesque Stakes over a mile on turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 26 as a goal for Word Girl.

Doyle picked out Moscow Burning and trained her for one start, a second at Del Mar in the summer of 2003, before she was sent to Cassidy.

Moscow Burning finished third in the Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park on Oct. 2. She led until the final furlong and was beaten three-quarters of a length by Riskaverse. Van Kempen says Moscow Burning is not a confirmed front-runner.

"She doesn't want the front end; she likes to sit off the horse," said Van Kampen. "I know the farther she goes, the better she races. I know I'll be very overlooked, but she's a very dangerous horse. If there is more speed, that will be better for me."

Mariani and Van Kampen were high school classmates in Ridgewood, N.J. Mariani lives in Northern California, and Van Kampen lives in Vista, north of Del Mar. A horse venture that started with claiming horses will take the two men, and their partner Michael Nentwig, to the richest day of racing in the country.

"I wound up with a horse that's going to the Breeders' Cup," Van Kampen said. "How the hell did this happen? I think she can run a mile and a half. If she gets beat in the Breeders' Cup, it won't be by far. It's an exciting thing. To have a horse like this is unbelievable."

The Anoakia Stakes is the top race on Sunday's program. The 12 nominees do not include a stakes winner but do include Hello Lucky, who finished third in the Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes and Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante Stakes. She is coming off a fifth in the Grade 2 Oak Leaf Stakes over 1 1/16 miles.

Bold Roberta retired

Bold Roberta, who finished fifth in the California Cup Distaff last Saturday, has been retired after a 52-race career that included six wins and earnings of $449,704.

Owned by Larry Ullmann, Bold Roberta will be sent to Kentucky where she will be bred to Sky Mesa. Roberta Ullmann, the dam of Bold Roberta, is also being sent to Kentucky to be bred to Point Given, Ullmann said.

Both mares will return to California later next year and will deliver the foals in California before being bred back to stallions in the state, Ullmann said.

Don Warren trained Bold Roberta, who won two stakes in the span of a week in September 2003 at Fairplex Park. Bold Roberta won the Pio Pico Stakes for sprinters Sept. 19 and the Las Madrinas Handicap over 1 1/16 miles Sept. 26.

Bold Roberta, 6, placed in three other stakes, including a runner-up finish in the 2003 California Cup Distaff. Her form tailed off late this year when she was winless in nine starts, a campaign that included runner-up finishes in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita in January and the Pio Pico Stakes in September.

Ullmann bred three of the 12 fillies and mares in the California Cup Distaff, including race winner Our Mango, a 49-1 shot, and third-place finisher Market Garden.