07/28/2005 12:00AM

Burbank perfect spot for Pickle


SANTA ROSA, Calif. - Add trainer Sanford Shulman to the ever-growing list of horsemen who appreciate the addition of a turf course at the Sonoma County Fair.

He'll send graded stakes winner Pickle from Southern California to attempt to win the first turf stakes in Santa Rosa history Saturday when she meets six rivals in the $50,000-added Luther Burbank at 1 1/16 miles.

"I saw the race, and it looked like a good prep for her," Shulman said.

Shulman is pointing Pickle for the Grade 2, $200,000 Palomar Handicap at Del Mar on Sept. 3. Pickle finished fifth in her last start, the Grade 3 Royal Heroine at Hollywood Park on July 3.

"It's nice to have a race in between," Shulman said. "The money is only $50,000, but it's a good spot."

The British-bred Pickle has run three times in northern California, including her U.S. debut, an easy allowance victory on March 12 at Bay Meadows. She then was third, beaten a length, in the Miss America Handicap at Bay Meadows before heading to Hollywood to win the Grade 3 Wilshire. She returned north to win the Grade 3 Yerba Buena at Golden Gate Fields, her start prior to the Royal Heroine.

When Russell Baze's agent, Ray Harris, called Shulman and said Baze wanted to ride Pickle, Shulman's mind was made up.

"It's a long trip, but she's not a nervous shipper," he said. "I figured as long as Russell felt so good about her I should come. Russell did a great job with her last time," in winning the Yerba Buena.

Shulman remembers watching races at Santa Rosa in the 1950's.

"Racing at Santa Rosa has always been good," he said. "I watched the first turf race there Wednesday, and the course looked very good."

The much-improved Cayerless and Hot, who has won three straight, including a pair on the turf, should be a factor in the race, and Penny Ante, who has good speed and draws the rail, also figures as a contender.

Lucky Sabre is in good form, having just run third in the Alameda County Fillies and Mares Handicap at Pleasanton, but she has never won on the turf. The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained entry of Eclipse Winner and Crozet seems a bit overmatched here. Musical Review, just claimed for $4,000, rounds out the field.

* With Wednesday's first two turf races handling $577,000 between them, opening-day handle was up 20 percent.

* Prior to the Luther Burbank, all fans at the track Saturday will be given free champagne glasses.