09/10/2003 11:00PM

Carmel open for an upset


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Saturday's $60,000-added Carmel Handicap at Bay Meadows may prove to be one of the toughest stakes of the meeting for handicappers to figure out.

The 1 1/16-mile turf race drew 10 3-year-old fillies, and a case can be made for each.

Woodlass, the 117-pound highweight, ran third as the favorite in the Barona Cup Handicap Aug. 23 at Del Mar in her U.S. debut, unleashing a strong closing kick in that one-mile race. No Kings, fourth in that race, is also entered, as is Cellamare, who, like Woodlass, raced in France before making her U.S. debut. She finished eighth in the Grade 2 San Clemente at Del Mar on Aug. 2.

Fudge Fatale, who set the pace over the turf before finishing second in the Bay Meadows Oaks, returns but may get pace pressure from locally based Hippogator and Watch Out World in their turf debuts.

Idaho stakes winner Thrill After Dark and Washington Breeders' Cup Oaks runner-up Calidara are also entered.

Eastside Ballad and Frisco Belle could be the surprises in the race.

Eastside Ballad just won her maiden race on Sept. 1 at Del Mar. Frisco Belle, second in a stakes race in the second start of her career and again in her 3-year-old debut, won her turf debut in a $62,500 claimer at Del Mar on Aug. 18.

Moving from maiden company to stakes company is a big step up, Eastside Ballad's trainer, Jean-Pierre Dupuis, realizes, but he thinks Eastside Ballad may be up to the task.

"She's a 3-year-old who has been running against 4-year-olds," Dupuis said. "She's gotten experience, and she's improving all the time. She's doing very well and has a lot of heart."

Eastside Ballad ran once as a 2-year-old, hesitating at the start and finishing fourth. She returned nine months later at 3 and had a pair of thirds and a second before her maiden victory. She met older in each race.

"It's very difficult to beat 4-year-olds, but she's very mature," Dupuls said. "Her first time this year she should have won."

It was just a matter of time before Frisco Belle ran on the turf, according to trainer Greg Gilchrist.

"We knew we'd do it some time," he said. "She's bred for it, being by El Prado. It probably seems strange we ran her at Del Mar after running far back in that Solano stakes, but there weren't any options for her up here.

"It's hard to tell what she can do off that. Keep in mind she was in for $62,500, and there are many others in here who could have won that race. I'm not sure she's this good, but she can run some."