04/27/2004 11:00PM

Blue Imp steps up in class

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - A full field of 12 older fillies and mares will compete in Friday's Bay Meadows feature, a first-level allowance race at 7 1/2 furlongs over the turf.

Bay Meadows will revert to afternoon racing for one last Friday because of the Kentucky Oaks and early Kentucky Derby wagering. Hollywood Park is also running an afternoon card.

Blue Imp, who has lost photos to Flirt with Danger in $12,500 starter allowance races in her past two starts, is the sharpest of the 12 runners, but she is stepping up for this race.

Blue Imp has never finished worse than second in three turf tries at Golden Gate Fields, winning for a $6,250 tag before her two seconds, by a head and a nose, to Flirt With Danger. Blue Imp has recorded back-to-back 86 Beyer Figures, the highest for any of these runners.

Blue Imp, who employs a stalking style, drew the rail. Her primary rivals, Dixie Rocker and Darlin Corey, drew posts 10 and 11.

Dixie Rocker, a New Zealand-bred, ran second in her U.S. debut, losing to heavy favorite Sweet Frippery in a 1 1/16-mile race after a tough pace duel. Dixie Rocker finished a nose in front of Trukndowntheavenue, who is also entered here.

Dixie Rocker was running for the first time in nine months and has five works since, including a five-furlong bullet.

Dixie Rocker hails from the high-percentage barn of John F. Martin, who wins 32 percent of the time on the turf with a $2.98 flat-bet profit. Martin has won at a 25 percent clip this year, but he does not have a high percentage in the second start off a long layoff.

Darlin Corey returned from a brief freshener after winning a $32,000 maiden claimer to score right back by six lengths in a $40,000 starter allowance. She will do most of her running late.

River Ella, disqualified from a win in a $40,000 starter allowance last time, showed more speed than usual in that race and may have to go early here from post 12. She has on victory in 19 starts.

* The field for Sunday's $55,000-added Woodside Handicap at six furlongs should have at least six fillies and mares.

Multiple stakes winners Bold Roberta, Channing Way, Christmas Time, and Pheiffer are expected to run.

Stormica, 2 for 2 since her arrival from France, and Coconut Girl, winner of her last start, are also likely to run.