02/09/2009 1:00AM

Brushed Gold stands out off last


ARCADIA, Calif. - February at Santa Anita promises to be wet, which is no problem for racing or training on the main track. Water drains through Pro-Ride, the synthetic surface that handles rain so well that 449 horses had workouts on it Saturday through Monday.

However, the weekend storm that continued into early this week will delay analysis of anything turf-related, including the $70,000 La Zanzara Handicap on Wednesday. Seven fillies and mares entered the 1 1/2-mile race. It is scheduled to be run on grass.

"It's a unique race, and we're going to try to run it [on grass]," racing secretary Rick Hammerle said.

When the race was drawn on Saturday, the forecast was for clear weather into Wednesday, the start of a six-day racing week.

The sun may still break through, and the turf may dry sufficiently. If so, the La Zanzara (race 7) and a downhill sprint (race 3) could yet be run on grass. They would be the first turf races at Santa Anita since Thursday. Let's wait and see.

"It's still only February," Hammerle said. "We don't want to chew up the turf" - which excessive racing on a soft course can do.

Brushed Gold should be favored in the La Zanzara, and if she reproduces her Nov. 9 runner-up finish in a similar marathon turf stakes at Hollywood Park, she should win. Brushed Gold has won 3 of 9 starts for trainer Todd Pletcher, and leading rider Garrett Gomez is up.

Her rivals include Lickety Lemon, a Mark Casse-trained shipper who has run well on wet turf; front-runners Forest Melody and Exquisite; stakes-placed Caprice; allowance winner Restless Soul; and outsider Powerofvoodoo.

Forest Melody and Exquisite are keys to the race, because if either scratches, the other figures for an easy lead. Forest Melody would benefit most if the La Zanzara is moved to the main track. She won a second-level allowance one start back on Cushion Track at Hollywood Park. Exquisite finished nowhere in that race.

If the feature is problematic due to footing, three other races in the pick six are potential traps. Race 4 favorite Cajun Gent was gelded following his most recent start, and he has lost all five starts at 3-1 or less. He drops Wednesday into a maiden-claimer for the first time.

Race 6 favorite Soldier Betty is a no-speed maiden-claimer who will be running late at 1 1/16 miles. Race 8 favorite L'Aziza is a stopping speedster racing first time for a tag.