03/12/2007 11:00PM

Fete seeks fifth straight win


ARCADIA, Calif. - Sooner or later, Fete will meet his match. It might happen Thursday in the race-7 feature at Santa Anita. But don't count on it.

Fete's win streak reached four when trainer Rafael Becerra ran him above his conditions last month in a third-level allowance/optional claimer. Fete won that turf sprint by a length, and because he entered for the $80,000 claim tag, he saved a condition and it gives him a free pass Thursday.

But the race is not easy. Eleven older horses entered the second-level allowance and optional $62,500 claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs on turf, and the field is stronger than the third-level allowance race that Fete won last time. The entrants include Barber, dropping in class for his second start back from a layoff; Headache, a European speedster making his second U.S. start; Hunter Street, going route to sprint; and 8-year-old Debonair Joe, winner of the Grade 1 Malibu in 2002.

Fete was claimed two starts back for $62,500 by Becerra and owner K. K. Sangara, and the half-brother to Grade 2 winner Congrats has all but forgotten how to lose. He has won 6 of his last 7 starts, 8 of 17 overall, and has a versatile running style that allows him to press the pace or rally from behind under Garrett Gomez.

Barber was dead short in his comeback a month ago against Grade 1 winner Greg's Gold. Barber set the pace and weakened in midstretch while racing for the first time in 10 months. Trained by Art Sherman, Barber has worked twice since, handles grass, and should be fitter second start back.

Headache may be the one to catch. An import from France, he was hammered to 7-2 in his U.S. debut on Feb. 16, but engaged in a suicidal pace battle and weakened in a downhill sprint in which the first four finishers rallied from the back of the field. One of the pace casualties, Limited Creole, already returned and won, and if Headache can shake loose Thursday he could steal the race.

Also on Thursday's card is an interesting maiden sprint for Cal-bred fillies and mares that begins the pick six in race 3. Unusual Beauty will be favored off a huge runner-up comeback where she earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure while finishing more than eight lengths clear of third.

To win, Unusual Beauty must defeat the Bruce Headley-trained firster G.I. Betty. Though she is less brilliant than Magnificience, Headley's spectacular debut winner on Sunday, G.I. Betty debuts with a solid work pattern and high expectations from the stable.