02/20/2007 12:00AM

Drastic drop to $32K for The Yellow Sheet


ARCADIA, Calif. - The cards are on the table. But is there a tell? Handicappers, and trainers eyeing a potential claim, both will be trying to follow their instincts with The Yellow Sheet, who takes a sharp drop in class for Thursday's featured seventh race at Santa Anita.

The Yellow Sheet has raced in stakes company in six of her last eight starts, including her most recent race, the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint at Gulfstream Park, which was her first start for trainer Jeff Mullins. On Thursday, however, she is being dangled for a $32,000 claiming price in a six-furlong optional claiming race for California-bred fillies and mares. Deal, or no deal?

The Yellow Sheet, 7, has not won a race since August 2005. In fact, she has had more trainers (three) than wins (one) in the past two years. She is not quick away from the gate, so her rail draw could pose a problem. But if she runs anywhere close to her prior form, she will be a formidable opponent against a field decidedly inferior to what she has recently faced.

Handicappers looking to beat The Yellow Sheet have several options. Mamselle Aries, with the meet's leading rider, Garrett Gomez, is moving back to the dirt after six consecutive losses on turf. This will be the first time she has raced on Santa Anita's main track, but she won first time out on Hollywood's old dirt surface last July.

"She's never run on Santa Anita's main track, so that's a concern, and it doesn't look like there's an abundance of speed in the race, so that's a concern," said Doug O'Neill, who trains Mamselle Aries. "But one thing I like about her is that she tries hard every time. And we get to keep Gomez, which is a plus, the way he's riding. Her only win was on dirt, so that should be a positive."

Perfect Rhyme should be the one to catch. She flashed sharp speed when she finished third in a similar Cal-bred optional claiming sprint on Jan.o11.

Kalookan Dancer's lone win in four starts came in her only try on Santa Anita's main track, when she beat maidens on Jan. 11. Kalookan Dancer crossed the wire second, with Mamselle Aries third, in a downhill turf sprint last time out Feb. 3, but she was moved back to fourth for interference in the stretch.

The pace wild card is Speedy Cajun, who is making her first start in seven months. She is capable of shading 22 seconds for an opening quarter-mile, and her two best races came when she was put into the race early. With her outside draw, she has options.