05/31/2001 11:00PM

Brite Girl heads trio challenging Phaenna


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Phaenna, who finished third to Grade 1 winner Lazy Slusan in the B Thoughtful at Hollywood Park on April 28, rates as the one to beat when she goes in the $50,000 Sunnyvale Handicap at Bay Meadows on Sunday.

Six entered the Sunnyvale, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares, 3 and up.

Phaenna, a speedster from the Ed Moger Jr. stable, has won eight of her 21 career starts, and will go over the $300,000 plateau in earnings with a first- or second-place finish Sunday. She comes into the race at $292,164.

The 6-year-old mare is clearly at her best when able to get the lead, and it looks as though she may be able to do that here, although Brite Girl is certainly capable of keeping her honest.

Phaenna, who has won six of 15 at six furlongs, comes into the race is good form. In the seven-furlong B Thoughtful (which was probably a little further that she wants to go), she set the pace to the stretch, was still second at midstretch and finished third, 6 1/2 lengths behind the winner. Before that, she finished first and second in a pair of $80,000 optional claiming races going six furlongs at Santa Anita, splitting decisions with Miss Grimsby, who subsequently finished a fast-closing second to Slewsbox in the Woodside at Bay Meadows May 5.

The main threats to the top choice appear to be Brite Girl, Aloha Mangos, and Dream of Gifts.

Of those, Brite Girl seems most likely to finish in the money, as she comes into the race in peak form, while the other two have questions to answer. Brite Girl, a 7-year-old, has a sparkling career record of 16 wins from 57 starts. She came to northern California from Florida following a private purchase by trainer Brian Koriner. He lost her for $20,000 in her local debut, but claimed her back at the first opportunity for $40,000. She has won four of her last five from softer foes, but might be sharp enough to win this modest stakes.

Aloha Mangos is good enough to win this race off her 2000 form. But she recently returned from a 5 1/2-month layoff with a dull fifth-place finish in the Woodside. She has come back with a couple of strong works and may improve sharply.

Dream of Gifts is a stakes-winner from the Jeff Bonde stable who is returning from a 7 1/2-month layoff and is probably best around two turns. But she has been training well for her comeback and has lured leading rider Russell Baze.