03/18/2003 12:00AM

Cal-bred may prove too much

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ARCADIA, Calif. - European imports Tangle and Katdogawn will feel right at home in the first of three turf races Thursday at Santa Anita, but race 3 figures to be won by a California-bred dirt sprinter. Just Too Too, whose front-running style is favored by the outermost placement of the temporary rails (30 feet), could be long gone, even though he is trying two turns and grass for the first time.

The one-other-than allowance for 3-year-old fillies drew eight starters racing one mile. It is the ideal spot for a front-runner to get brave. A similar scenario, at a shorter trip, may unfold in race 5. Our Magistrate is the lone speed in the downhill three-other-than sprint. He also is trying grass for the first time, against a field that includes Grade 3 winner Master Belt, Macward, and Waingarth.

In race 7, a two-other-than filly-mare allowance at one mile, comebacker Kirtle faces late-runner Shalini and European import Rhythm of Life. Nine entered. Before four inches of rain soaked Santa Anita over the weekend, the turf course was lightning fast and speed-favoring. The effect of the rain on the course profile remains unclear, though it likely has slowed. The four turf races scheduled for Wednesday may provide further insight into how the course will play Thursday.

Either way, Just Too Too could be long gone in race 3. An In Excess filly claimed by trainer Jeff Mullins and owner Richard Englander off a winning debut Jan. 30, she blitzed California-bred sprinters on March 7. Previously, jockey Gary Stevens worked the filly on grass and told Mullins: "I've been on a lot of In Excesses, and it looks like you might have one of the good ones."

The turf route Thursday is the race Mullins pointed Just Too Too toward. She won her sprint geared down, worked well on grass, and will have the lead to herself. The stylish manner of her sprint win suggests the 13-day turnaround may be inconsequential.

Others in the race include Tangle, making her first start since a runner-up finish Nov. 29 in a Grade 3; Katdogawn, who finished second in her U.S. debut in a downhill sprint; She's No Sham; the entry No Kings and Sanctified; Baby Angel; and Vanilla Sky.

- Our Magistrate returns from a two-month break in race 5. He will have the lead to himself in his first try on turf for trainer Mark Glatt. In race 7, Shalini gets back on her preferred surface and is the one to beat.

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