04/17/2008 12:00AM

Double Trouble in comfortable spot


ARCADIA, Calif. - Double Trouble is a Grade 1 winner this year, but she needs to do more to convince trainer Bobby Frankel that she belongs at that level. The $200,000 Santa Barbara Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita on Saturday, a Grade 2 race, may be a better fit, Frankel said.

"She's in with her friends now," he said. "She's a nice filly. I don't think she's a superstar."

Double Trouble won the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on the synthetic main track here in February, and returned to finish third in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap on the main track March 9, losing by 5 1/4 lengths to Nashoba's Key. Frankel felt that jockey Rafael Bejarano had Double Trouble "a little too far back" in the Santa Margarita.

In the Santa Barbara, Double Trouble is the 117-pound topweight. She is the only 2008 graded stakes winner in a field of 11 that includes Immortelle, Lavender Sky, and Foxysox, the second- through fourth-place finishers in the Grade 2 Santa Ana Handicap last month, and Black Mamba, who was second in the Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap in February.

The Santa Barbara will be Double Trouble's first start at 1 1/4 miles on turf since she won a Group 2 over that distance in September 2006, her final start in Brazil. She debuted for Frankel in April 2007.

"I think a mile and a quarter is a better distance for her," Frankel said.

Immortelle, Lavender Sky, and Foxysox were separated by heads in the Santa Ana, a 1 1/8-mile turf race that had a rough finish through the final strides. Trainer Dan Hendricks was not discouraged by the third-place finish from Lavender Sky.

"Change the trip a little and any of the three could have won," he said of the fillies and mares that finished just behind race-winner Costume.

Lavender Sky won an optional claimer over 1 1/4 miles on turf on Feb. 2.

Immortelle, winner of the 2007 Brazilian Oaks over about 1 1/4 miles on turf, should appreciate the extra furlong of the Santa Barbara.

"I think it's going to be better," trainer Paulo Lobo said.

The Santa Barbara equals the longest race in Foxysox's career. A winner of 5 of 19 starts, Foxysox was sixth in the 2006 American Oaks over 1 1/4 miles on turf.

"Hopefully, she'll get the distance and not have any traffic problems," trainer Carla Gaines said.