02/13/2003 1:00AM

China Princess takes unusual leap


ALBANY, Calif. - Moving straight from the maiden ranks to stakes company isn't a standard practice, especially for a 3-year-old filly that has run only once.

But that's what China Princess will do Saturday when she takes on five rivals in the $60,000-added Vallejo Stakes at one mile.

China Princess won her debut at six furlongs for trainer Brent Sumja on Jan. 12 despite racing greenly in the lane.

"You'd never expect anything like that before the race," Sumja's assistant Aggie Anderson said. "She'd done everything right in training, breaking from the gate, working behind horses. She learned all her lessons at first asking. She did things so well, the [exercise] rider never carried a stick."

China Princess broke sharply in her debut and made the lead on her own. She continued well around the turn and into the stretch before jockey Joey Castro hit her with the whip.

"When Joey hit her, she had a reaction," Anderson said.

The filly did a little zigging and zagging down the stretch, before straightening out late.

"After Joey hit her again, she adjusted and finished like a pro," Anderson said.

Anderson said that Sumja did not rush the filly because she seemed so talented. She said that stretching from six furlongs to one mile is the least of their worries.

"We almost ran her a mile in her first start," Anderson said. "She never flashed brilliant speed in her works. She's so competitive. She does what she has to do to keep her head in front. It's beautiful that she gets it that quickly."

China Princess will be facing three stakes winners Saturday.

Maddie's Charm won the one-mile Corte Madera Stakes here on Dec. 28. She finished fifth, beaten 20 1/4 lengths in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes at Santa Anita on Sunday.

Tale of a Dream and Viansa Ossidiana both won six-furlong stakes last fall at Bay Meadows and finished second and third behind Maddie's Charm in the Corte Madera.

The one to beat, though, may be Lucky Sabre, who comes off a strong victory in a one-mile allowance race. She, too, will be making her stakes debut.

Creditcardpurchase rounds out the field, moving from claiming and starter allowance ranks into her first stakes.

"She's training well and she'll get a route of ground. That's the best part," trainer Roy Lumm said.

Creditcardpurchase closed for third in her first try at a mile, in a $25,000 claimer. "And that was on a sloppy track," Lumm said. "I don't think an off track will affect her."

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