11/27/2007 1:00AM

Bootleg Annie tough on the turf

EmailALBANY, Calif. - Bootleg Annie has a lot to live up to when she makes her first start off the claim Thursday at Golden Gate Fields in a $50,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares going a mile on turf.

Trainer O.J. Jauregui claimed Bootleg Annie for Stuart Kesselman and Tony and Marilyn Melkonian, who two years ago claimed Siren Lure for $50,000. Siren Lure became a Grade 1 winner for the owners and trainer Art Sherman.

Jauregui claimed Bootleg Annie, a California-bred 3-year-old filly, for $40,000 when she was beaten a neck by Lady in Love on Oct. 14 at Bay Meadows. The defeat was only the second in nine turf starts for Bootleg Annie.

"She's good and she's game," Jauregui said. "When you've won as many as she has, you're worth $40,000.

"When I watched her in races, she always seemed to try. In the barn, she's just feisty. She kicks and bites. But that's the way she is when she runs. She's small, but she's feisty."

Jauregui said that because of her size and her penchant for trying so hard, he plans to space Bootleg Annie's races.

"I don't like to run them back quickly, especially when they're running higher because they do have to run harder," he said.

Although Bootleg Annie scored her first win in a $5,000 maiden claimer, she has failed to hit the board only once in 14 starts. Her record on turf is 7-1-1 in 9 starts with $103,695 in earnings and it includes a victory in the Wende Stakes at Turf Paradise on April 21.

Jauregui said he might consider running her in the Jan. 5 Glendale Handicap on the turf at Turf Paradise if Bootleg Annie runs well Thursday.

Bootleg Annie has seven rivals, including the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained entry of Nottingham Forest and Forest Miss. Nottingham Forest had a three-race win streak snapped when second in her first try at this level in a Bay Meadows turf race Nov. 2. Forest Miss steps up off a game victory in a $40,000 optional claimer.

The field also includes Family Talents, also stepping up off an optional-claiming win; Missatacama, third behind Nottingham Forest in her last start; Yoorock Gal, making her turf debut but a winner at this level in Canada; Star Serenade; and Isobel Baillie.