04/12/2007 11:00PM

Cielo Dulce has finally gotten it

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - It took the 5-year-old Cielo Dulce 15 starts to become an up-and-comer. Cielo Dulce has won two straight, winning her maiden on Feb. 3 and then capturing a $40,000 starter allowance on March 3.

She faces five other fillies and mares, including the much more accomplished pair of Come On Margaret and Potion, going a mile in a $32,000 optional claimer at Bay Meadows on Sunday.

"She really looks good, and she's training well," said Cielo Dulce's trainer, Allen Severinsen. "If she can get a clean trip, she'll be very effective."

Cielo Dulce made her first 12 starts at Emerald Downs. She showed flashes of talent there, including a fourth-place finish in the $50,000 Belle Roberts in September. She came to Northern California in November and immediately showed that she wasn't a turf mare, finishing seventh in a pair of Bay Meadows maiden races.

"In the first turf race, she had traffic problems," Severinsen said, "and when she ran back, she didn't handle it at all, and [jockey] Ricky Frazier said not to run her back on turf."

Severinsen put Cielo Dulce back on dirt, and she has shown improvement in her three starts since. In the first of those starts, she rallied for second in a $20,000 maiden-claiming sprint at Golden Gate.

"I sprinted her after those turf races because I really wanted to change things," Severinsen said. "I knew she preferred routing, but she ran her eyeballs out and was really ready for two turns."

She won a one-mile maiden special weight at Golden Gate despite washing out badly in the paddock, and Severinsen ran her back in a starter allowance race. She pulled away to win by seven.

"She came out of that maiden race so well, and she's gotten better since then," Severinsen said.

Cielo Dulce will try to catch the speedy Come On Margaret, who comes off a win and a second in a pair of allowance races for trainer Billy Morey. Come On Margaret has six victories, four coming at Bay Meadows.

Potion has eight victories and $205,545 in earnings.