09/21/2004 11:00PM

Can Shezsospiritual do it again?


POMONA, Calif. - Bettors face two questions Friday in the $100,000 Las Madrinas Handicap at the Los Angeles County Fair. The first is deciding whether Shezsospiritual will reproduce her most recent start, a romping win just 12 days ago in the E.B. Johnston Stakes over the five-furlong Fairplex Park track.

The second question requires more risk, with possibility for greater reward: How much improvement will Tale of a Dream produce while making her first start for her new trainer, Jeff Mullins?

Eight fillies and mares entered the Las Madrinas, a 1 1/16-mile race. The field also includes 2003 Las Madrinas winner Bold Roberta, who is compromised by front-runners Lucky in Love and Awesome Lady. Three others are off form - Lady Thatcher, All Glory, and Imagoldseeker.

was merely an honest turf sprinter when new trainer Mike Mitchell entered her in the E.B. Johnston Sept. 12 and took off the blinkers she had worn in her 22 previous starts. Shezsospiritual had previously been unruly in the starting gate, and Mitchell said he thought removing blinkers might solve her behavior.

"She didn't seem like she needed them, and something was intimidating her in the gate," he said.

Shezsospiritual also benefited from a drop in class and romped by more than five lengths in the E.B. Johnston. The race was Shezsospiritual's first start on a five-furlong track.

Omar Figueroa rides Shezsospiri-tual, the 120-pound highweight, who has won six races and $213,398 from 23 starts but has never won two straight. The 90 Beyer Figure she earned in her last start tops the field.

Shezsospiritual figures for a comfortable trip positioned behind front-runners Lucky in Love and Awesome Lady. Those two hurt the chances of Bold Roberta, a sprinter who has just one win in 14 route races. That was in last year's Las Madrinas, in which she set the pace.

A contested pace would benefit Tale of a Dream, who makes her first start since July 5. A stakes winner as a 2-year-old, Tale of a Dream has won 2 of 15 overall and exceeded a 78 Beyer just once, when second on a wet track. She picks up leading jockey Martin Pedroza, has worked well for her new connections, and will roll late in a race that could fall apart in favor of her style.

The $100,000 Pomona Derby is Saturday; the fair ends Sunday with the $100,000 Ralph M. Hinds Pomona Invitational Handicap.