08/29/2006 12:00AM

'Dustyroad' race's only speed


DEL MAR, Calif. - Downthe-dustyroad never has beaten anything other than Arkansas-breds, and never has faced older runners in a stakes race. Yet despite those two obstacles, she still poses an elusive target in Thursday's Del Mar feature, the $85,000 Adoration Handicap, because of one thing: She is the only speed in the race.

, 3, faces five older runners in the Adoration, a restricted handicap at one mile. She has not raced in more than 2 1/2 months, but has turned in a series of sharp works here and figures to control the pace under the meet's leading rider, Victor Espinoza.

Her trainer, Bob Baffert, had contemplated running Downthedusty-road instead on Friday, in the Torrey Pines Stakes, which is exclusively for 3-year-old fillies.

"But she's a speed filly, she wants to get it on, and the other race looks like it's got a lot of speed in it," Baffert said. "To run in that, she wouldn't learn anything. I don't want to run against older horses, but there's not a lot of speed in this race."

Downthedustyroad was a distant third in the Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks on June 11, her first start since being purchased privately after winning three of five starts in Arkansas.

"We bought her mainly for the La Canada Series," Baffert said, referring to Santa Anita's three-race series for newly turned 4-year-old fillies during its winter meeting. "We gave her some time after her last race because she's very light. She's training well. I think she'll run well."

Revealed has displayed tactical speed in the past and could get the first-over trip on Downthedusty-road. Her last four starts have been on turf, including a fifth-place finish in the Osunitas Handicap here, but she has won on dirt before. Trainer John Shirreffs said he was attracted to the Adoration by the opportunity to get black type for Revealed.

"She's trained well on the dirt," Shirreffs said at his barn Tuesday morning. "I didn't want to run on the turf. At this point in the meet, the turf is pretty rough."

Neuilly has won both her starts on dirt in this country. Her late charge was flattered by a wicked early pace when she earned her most recent victory here on Aug. 2.

Like Revealed, Tanta Suerte is moving from turf to dirt, but she has yet to race on dirt. She is adding blinkers.