05/27/2005 12:00AM

Clean break all Lunachick needs


ALBANY, Calif. - Those who were disappointed by Lunachick's second-place finish at 3-5 in the Winners' Foundation Sprint at Bay Meadows last month should put themselves in Russell Baze's riding boots.

"If she broke, I would have liked her chances much better," he said.

Lunachick turned her head just before the gate opened, did not break alertly, and later endured traffic problems on the turn. Despite all the adversity, she finished second and will be looking to make amends Sunday at Golden Gate Fields in the $55,000-added Vallejo Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs.

, who has 2 wins and 2 seconds in 4 career starts, once again looms the one to beat as she meets five rivals, including stakes winner Hello Lucky. Two others, Jewels of Bagdad and She's a Jewel, are both stakes placed.

, who set the pace in the Winners' Foundation, drew the rail and will have no option but to go early.

won last fall's Anoakia Stakes at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meet in wire-to-wire style but has regressed since. Hello Lucky, who returns after a layoff of nearly two months, can be expected to go to the front early. She has been working very fast, including a best-of-43 59.20-second five-furlong drill at Hollywood Park on May 21.

She's a Jewel rallied five wide from midpack when she lost the Sunshine Millions Oaks by a head, then showed little in her last start.

Baze retains his confidence in Lunachick. The poor start was a fluke that he doesn't expect to happen again.

Despite the poor break, Baze thought he had a chance to get between rivals on the turn, "but the hole closed up," he said, and he was forced to ease her back a bit.

Though she was unable to give her best when boxed in on the turn, Lunachick showed Baze something that day.

"I was quite pleased to learn she doesn't have to have the lead to run well," he said.

Should she get the lead, Lunachick can be awfully tough to catch.

She made her debut in a $40,000 maiden claimer at Santa Anita in February and was then sent north to trainer Steve Miyadi.

Lunachick won a straight maiden race with ease, and Miyadi opted for an easy spot in a starter allowance race against winners for her second start. She won by 13, earning a 100 Beyer Speed Figure as she pulled away early.