11/13/2006 12:00AM

Bigger races ahead for Bai and Bai

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Bai and Bai returned from a six-month layoff to win her turf debut in the Palo Alto Handicap at Bay Meadows last Saturday, encouraging trainer Bill Delia to consider trying her in some major races.

Among the stakes under consideration for the California-bred Bai and Bai are the Grade 1 La Brea at seven furlongs for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita in December and the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita Park in January.

Delia has another stakes horse in the barn, Bedlam Bertie, who ran third Nov. 5 in the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Derby on the turf. The 3-year-old Bedlam Bertie has hit the board in all six of his turf starts with three wins, two seconds, and a third.

"Bedlam Bertie has got a big future," Delia said. "He's come around and run some strong races since we've moved him to the turf."

Bai and Bai, though, is the real star of the barn. Bai and Bai came out of the Palo Alto in fine shape, Delia said.

"She didn't seem all that tired and ate up fine," he said. "She came out of it great, legwise."

The victory in the Palo Alto was Bai and Bai's third stakes triumph. She also has three runner-up finishes and a third in stakes and has earned $244,548 in 11 starts.

Not bad for a $3,200 purchase, although owner Harry Wilson joked after Saturday's victory that Delia made him pay too much for her at the 2004 Pleasanton sale, where they bought her.

"We've always had high hopes for her," said Delia, who has wanted to run her on the turf because of her breeding. She's by the sire Falstaff, a son of Lyphard.

"I thought after I bought her that cheap maybe something was wrong," Delia said. "But we checked her thoroughly and found nothing, so I thought maybe we stole her."

Delia is used to coming up with steals.

"We're bargain shoppers," he admitted, although he did go as high as $19,000 for a yearling at this year's Pleasanton sale.

Prior to Bai and Bai, his biggest bargain may have been I'm a Jewel. He purchased him privately for $6,000 after he had failed in an $8,500 maiden claimer. I'm a Jewel went on to win the 1997 California Derby.

Delia wasn't sure if he had Bai and Bai fully cranked up for the Palo Alto. She went into the race with a "minor foot problem," he said, and she had only six works before the Palo Alto. But she was fit enough to make a big move into the stretch, like top turf horses do.

"She sure gobbled them up," Delia said.

Baze countdown continues

Russell Baze ended the week with 9,512 victories and is now just 19 away from passing Laffit Pincay Jr.'s all-time record of 9,530 career wins.

Bay Meadows ran a contest earlier in the meet to predict when Baze would surpass Pincay.

Autumn Leaves nominees scarce

Saturday's scheduled $55,000 Autumn Leaves Handicap at 1 1/16 miles drew only nine nominees, including Secret Scheme, fourth as the favorite behind Bai and Bai last Saturday.

Cal Cup Matron winner Somethinaboutlaura, who earlier this year won the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park, is the highweight at 124 pounds, giving seven to Freakin Streakin, but if she runs, she may scare away most of the other nominees. Since the race is listed as an overnight handicap, it can be canceled if it does not draw enough entries.

Close rivals rematched

Two-year-olds take Wednesday's spotlight when Babcock Lake and Are You Positive meet in a rematch in a six-furlong first-level allowance race.

The two went head and head in their last meeting, on Oct. 26, with Babcock Lane prevailing by a neck as the pair ran second and third in a three-way photo. Babcock Lane showed more speed than his rival last time and is drawn outside him Wednesday.

* Owner/trainer Daniel Franko was fined $3,000 in a stipulated agreement for a Class 3 medication violation after Abuse of Power, fifth in the second race at Golden Gate Fields on April 19, tested above the regulatory threshold for the bronchodilator clenbuterol.