08/21/2009 11:00PM

Early and late, it's all Abrams


DEL MAR, Calif. - Ask trainer Barry Abrams to analyze the $100,000 Solana Beach Handicap on Sunday at Del Mar, and he answers with optimism.

"We've got the one-two punch," Abrams said. "We've got the speed, and we've got the closer."

Right. And he probably has the winner. Front-runner Flashover and late-runner Hot n' Dusty are the principal entrants in the Solana Beach, a one-mile turf race for California-bred fillies and mares with eight entrants and seven likely starters.

Stakes winner Bootleg Annie has won 14 of 28. You Lift Me Up drops in class to face statebreds after a good third against open company. Others include longshots Chateau Suisse, Win Allison Win, and Spinning Yarns. Abrams-trained Bel Air Sizzle is expected to scratch for another race next week.

Flashover won 5 of her first 8 starts, all sprints, before Abrams stretched her to a mile Aug. 12. The race unfolded all wrong. Flashover sat second while chasing a 21.61-second opening quarter and opening up eight lengths on the rest of the field. The blazing tempo continued on the backstretch, as Flashover chased a 45.39 half while seven lengths clear.

It should have spelled the end for Flashover. But rather than quit in the lane, the daughter of Unusual Heat dug in late, only to get worn down by Hot n' Dusty.

"It was an unbelievable race," Abrams said. "She was able to go fast in the beginning and still finish."

The fractions Sunday should be softer, and Abrams's prediction for Flashover is that "if she repeats that same race, she'll probably win because they won't go 21-and-3."

Joe Talamo rides Flashover, who figures to make the lead over presser Bootleg Annie.

"My only concern is that was the hardest race of her career," Abrams said of Flashover.

If the speed collapses, then Abrams-trained Hot n' Dusty might be along in time. Alex Solis rides Hot n' Dusty, a 4-for-20 filly sired by Unusual Heat.

"The whole key is Flashover," Abrams said. "Hot n' Dusty had to do all she can to go by Flashover. If they went sensible [fractions] last time, Hot n' Dusty would not have won."

Bootleg Annie also runs toward the front, but she is not as quick as Flashover. It is likely that Bootleg Annie will sit second behind Flashover, and be first to attack if the front-runner tires.