10/31/2003 12:00AM

Can Secret Corsage come from behind?


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Jerry Hollendorfer has wrapped up his 27th straight Bay Meadows training title. On Sunday, he'll saddle Secret Corsage in the $60,000-added Bay Meadows Lassie, as she tries to win 2-year-old filly of the meet honors.

Secret Corsage's eight-length victory at a mile Oct. 13 makes her one of the fillies to beat in the one-mile Lassie. The probable favorite in the field of five is unbeaten Church Editor, who began her career in a $25,000 maiden claimer. Church Editor recently scored her third straight win, capturing the 1 1/16-mile Black Swan at Fairplex.

The speed of the race unquestionably belongs to Very Vegas, who comes off a pair of impressive wire-to-wire sprint victories. Very Vegas graduated by 7 1/2 lengths at Fairplex in a $32,000 maiden claimer and beat starter allowance runners at Bay Meadows by six lengths in her last start.

"I guess you do worry about going two turns until you try," said Very Vegas's trainer, Terry Knight. "As quick as she is, she's not a speed-crazy runoff type. She relaxes pretty well, and she's finished strong in her races."

Secret Corsage has won two of three starts. Both victories came in front-running fashion. She did not get the lead in her one loss and finished a distant fourth.

Hollendorfer, closing in on $1 million in earnings for the meet, says Secret Corsage's experience around two turns may help her.

Hollendorfer, who owns Secret Corsage with Peter Abruzzo and breeder John Franks, is not concerned about the possibility that Secret Corsage will not be leading early. He believes having the lead may be more important sprinting than routing.

"There's all kinds of dirt flying around in a sprint," he said. "When they stretch out, it doesn't matter so much because they tend to spread out a bit after the first turn."

Church Editor was a private purchase after she won a maiden race at Calder.

"She ran a pretty good race and finished in 24 and change on a tiring track," said Vladimir Cerin, Church Editor's trainer.

Church Editor, who actually went around three turns in her stakes victory at Fairplex, has stalking speed and should be well positioned here.

"The ability to come from off the pace is an advantage if you are better than the other horses," said Cerin. "It definitely helps with a young horse if you've already gone a route."

Church Editor has worked steadily since her stakes victory. Cerin seemed confident going into the race.

"She looks like she's getting better," he said.