03/30/2006 12:00AM

Fast Hand sharpest of the speed in turf dash


OLDSMAR Fla. - Fast Hand, who fell just a half-length short of victory in her turf debut and first start in 1 1/2 years, tops a field of some of the faster female turf sprinters on the Tampa Bay grounds in Saturday's optional claiming feature. The race will be run at five furlongs over the turf course.

Fast Hand had not run since August of 2004 when she made her 2006 debut on March 7, but the time off did not seem to faze her. She broke sharply, vied for the lead in that five-furlong dash, and continued gamely to the finish to be second to Helen's Legacy, who also returns in Saturday's feature.

In 2004, Fast Hand won her maiden at Calder in her third career start and her first with Lasix. She came right back to trounce an allowance field by eight lengths. With a recent race under her belt, she looks like the best of several speed horses in this field.

Jockey Huber Villa-Gomez will handle Fast Hand again for trainer Freddie Hyatt at 120 pounds.

Helen's Legacy ran the top pick down late to capture her last start, her sixth victory on the turf. A versatile type, Helen's Legacy figures to be forwardly placed by jockey Vernon Bush at 124 pounds.

Royal Dove, a recent allowance winner going five furlongs on the turf at Gulfstream Park in her first start since October, is another runner from the barn of Tampa Bay's leading trainer, Kirk Ziadie.

Royal Dove will garner a good bit of public support with Jose Lezcano in the irons. Lezcano, the leading rider, returns from a suspension for the mount.

Embraceable You, a consistent runner from the Linda Rice barn who is coming off a game win on the main track, also deserves consideration.

Rice also has Platinum Blonde on the also-eligible list. Platinum Blonde, a 3-year-old, led into the stretch of her U.S. debut after racing with males in five of her six starts in Ireland.

In the co-featured second race, Mia's Reflection, who has been knocking heads with stakes company in her last eight starts, should find the 1 1/16-mile optional claiming route a good spot to get back on the winning track.

Martin Escobar will handle Mia's Reflection, a two-time stakes winner last season who comes to Tampa following a pair of dull efforts with Grade 2 company at Gulfstream Park.