07/30/2009 11:00PM

Carlsbad tries turf in San Clemente

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Carlsbad whipped through three stakes in Arizona last winter and won two graded stakes in the spring at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park, giving her five stakes wins in her first seven starts. All were on the main track.

This summer at Del Mar, Carlsbad's career has shifted to turf, and trainer Jeff Mullins is confident the filly can handle her first assignment on the surface in Saturday's $150,000 San Clemente Handicap.

"She ought to be fine on it," he said. "She's relaxed a little better. She's not as keen as she is on the main track. Hopefully, it's a good thing."

Owned by Dennis Weir, Carlsbad has led in all of her starts, sometimes fighting for the lead and other times uncontested. Mullins's confidence in Carlsbad's ability on turf stems from three workouts on the surface at Hollywood Park and Del Mar in July.

"She couldn't be doing any better right now," he said.

Carlsbad has not started since winning the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks on June 7, her second graded stakes win. Mullins considered sending Carlsbad to Florida for a stakes in early July, but cancelled those plans after she bled in a workout in June.

"We never found an answer for it, and it hasn't happened since," he said. "It surprised us."

Carlsbad will carry top weight of 120 pounds in the Grade 2 San Clemente, which is run over a mile on turf for 3-year-old fillies. Tyler Baze, her regular rider in California, has the mount.

Carlsbad is one of five stakes winners among the 11 entered (10 can start). Carlsbad is likely to be on or near the lead, but cannot run too quickly in the first half of the race. Ensuring a good pace will be Fastongrass, third in the Manhattan Beach Stakes at Hollywood Park on June 5; Kaweah Princess, winner of the Sweepida Stakes at Stockton on June 27; and Oilgonewile, winner of the Sweet Chant Stakes at Gulstream Park in January.

The leading closers are Acting Lady, winner of the Grade 2 Providencia Stakes at Santa Anita in April, and Strawberry Tart, who won the Manhattan Beach and Flawlessly stakes at Hollywood Park.

Strawberry Tart is seeking her first win in a graded stakes. She rallied from seventh in a field of nine to win the one-mile Flawlessly, her first start at the distance.