12/11/2002 12:00AM

Courtster sharp in a puzzler


ALBANY, Calif. - Eleven fillies and mares meet in Friday's Golden Gate feature, a six-furlong allowance race.

It offers handicappers plenty of variables with which to test their handicapping skills.

There are 3-year-olds meeting older, claimers moving up, and runners who have been competing at this first allowance level while looking for a victory.

The sharpest member of the field is Courtster, who carries a five-race win streak into the race. She started her streak in a $4,000 claiming race and has run for a higher tag in each of her next four starts.

She comes into Friday's race off a three-length victory against $20,000 claimers and was claimed for the third time during the winning streak. Leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer claimed Courtster, a 4-year-old, for himself and partner, George Todaro.

She comes into the race with the best last-race Beyer.

Among her rivals are Little Bird, who has won two of her past three starts and finished second in a $32,000, 4 1/2-furlong turf claimer in her last start, Old Court's Cat, who won her debut, and Power to Burn, a runner-up at this level the same day Courtster won her fifth straight.

Power to Burn showed a good closing kick, although her race was slower than Courtster's. Courtster went wire to wire in her victory, however her fractions were slower than the fractions in Power to Burn's race.

Full Moon Lady, who faded to third behind Power to Burn, and Our Mango, who faded to fourth, battled head-and-head through fractions of 21.91, 45.14, and 58.00. Courtster's fractions were 22.57, 45.75, and 57.95 four races earlier.

Handicappers must decide how the faster pace will affect Courtster, who is at her best on the front end.

If the pressure is too great on Courtster, Power to Burn becomes a legitimate threat, as does Little Bird, who was forced very wide in her turf bid for a hat trick last time.

Power to Burn was second to the nice Broke in Blairsden, but she is only 1 for 16 lifetime and has had numerous chances at this level.

Old Court's Cat is also an interesting possibility as she makes her second start for trainer Chuck Jenda. Jenda, who wins at a 20 percent clip, wins only five percent with first-time starters.

She won wire to wire with slow fractions but could improve here.

* Saturday's Daily Racing Form handicapping seminar will feature bloodstock agent James Ough, who will discuss pedigree and body language as handicapping tools. The seminar runs from 11 a.m. until noon at the Paddock Pub.

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