11/06/2003 1:00AM

Experience gives House of Fortune edge


ARCADIA, Calif. - House of Fortune and Silent Sighs have both displayed plenty of raw ability in their brief careers, but experience, and the post position draw make House of Fortune the deserved favorite in Saturday's $125,000 California Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

House of Fortune and Silent Sighs were overpowering winners against maidens. House of Fortune, however, had a prep race before that and won the seven-furlong Cover Gal Stakes, Oak Tree's prep for the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile Fillies. Silent Sighs has just her debut win. The win was dazzling, and she may have as much upside as House of Fortune, but the experience gap between the two could be the difference Saturday.

"The more experience you have going into these two-turn races, the better," said Ron McAnally, who trains House of Fortune for clothing executive Arnold Zetcher. "To me, it's an advantage."

House of Fortune should also benefit from having drawn post 3 in the 14-horse field. Silent Sighs is stuck in post 11.

House of Fortune comes off a sharp win against several of her Cal Cup rivals in the Cover Gal. Despite breaking from the rail, she showed speed to grab the lead, turned back a pesky challenge from Nicole and Ben, then drew clear for a 2 1/2-length victory.

"There's some speed in there again Saturday," McAnally said. "It's not going to be easy. And they're predicting rain, so I don't know how that's going to affect things. I don't think any of them have run in the mud, so they're all in the same boat, so to speak."

McAnally put House of Fortune on edge for Saturday's race by giving her a short, sharp blowout through the stretch Thursday morning at Santa Anita with her jockey, Alex Solis. The work was not included on the official tab.

Silent Sighs was an eye-catching winner Oct. 13, her first time out. Despite breaking slowly, she rallied powerfully to win going away by six lengths. As a daughter of the Alydar stallion Benchmark, she figures to improve with distance. Still, she faces the challenge of going from a lone maiden sprint to a stakes route, and will have to overcome a bad draw.

Nicole and Ben had no excuse in the Cover Gal. She had the advantage of being drawn outside of House of Fortune but finished second. She was fourth in Del Mar's Generous Portion, which was won by She's Gottogetaway.

She's Gottogetaway won the first two starts of her career, including the Generous Portion, but never threatened in the Cover Gal and finished third.

The swift Bugsy Marrone has won five times in six starts, including four victories at Turf Paradise by a combined 42 lengths. She was a maiden winner here in April.

There is an abundance of early speed in the race, and that should help the chances of the late-running filly, The Usual. The Usual has won her last two starts, including an allowance race going long Oct. 15. The time of The Usual's most recent race was slow, and she benefited from a wicked early pace, but figures to get a similar pace at which to run this time, and could clunk up for at least a share. In a 14-horse field, there are 2,184 possible trifecta combinations, and The Usual could very well be part of it. She is drawn poorly, in post 14, but her style should allow her to drop back and avoid being caught too wide on the first turn.