01/10/2008 1:00AM

Czechers has faced tougher


Saturday's $50,000 Tiburon Stakes at Golden Gate Fields looks to be a classic North vs. South matchup. The six-furlong feature for 3-year-old fillies drew a field of eight, with three of the major protagonists shipping in from Southern California to take on five based in Northern California.

Czechers, a daughter of Indian Charlie trained by Mark Glatt, may have seen the deepest water so far. She won her maiden at Del Mar last August, and was promptly tossed into the Anoakia Stakes at Oak Tree, showing speed and faltering to fifth. Still, considering that it was her first try against winners and that she was facing future stakes winners Foxy Danseur and Spring Awakening, she wasn't disgraced.

Glatt next opted for the Sharp Cat at Hollywood Park, the 1o1/16-mile traditional prep for the Hollywood Starlet. Czechers chased the pace and stayed on evenly to be third, six lengths behind Foxy Danseur. Czechers hasn't raced since that Nov. 17 race, but has a solid work tab. Kyle Kaenel has the mount.

At least two locals figure to test Czechers. Heaven on Hold, trained by Greg Gilchrist, won her career debut in wire-to-wire fashion at Bay Meadows Oct. 7. She came back at Golden Gate on Dec. 7 in an allowance race. Sent off the 4-5 favorite, she sat back off the pace and charged to the lead in midstretch, but stopped and finished fourth behind Mini Tales, one of her rivals on Saturday. Heaven on Hold can likely benefit from that outing and boasts three strong works since. Russell Baze, who was up for those first two outings, is back aboard here.

Mini Tales actually began her career in Southern California. She won her second start, which came at Del Mar on Aug. 6, and was claimed that day by Jerry Hollendorfer for $40,000. It sure seemed a shrewd buy, as she came right back to easily win a starter allowance race at Bay Meadows on Sept. 23.

But she then dueled for the lead and tired badly in a turf race at Bay Meadows on Oct. 7 and faltered to fourth routing on Golden Gate's Tapeta track Nov.o21. In her Dec. 7 allowance score, Mini Tales sat back and rallied strongly to win at a hefty 20-1 under Alex Bisono, who retains the mount.