01/15/2005 12:00AM

Fillies cross paths again in sprint


ALBANY, Calif. - When Vaca City Flyer and Yerevan Star ran one-two in a Nov. 17 allowance race, trainers John Martin and Gloria Haley didn't expect to meet again in Monday's $50,000-added Richmond Handicap at Golden Gate Fields.

"We were unsure what to do until she ran down south at Hollywood Park," Martin said, referring to a Dec. 8 allowance race in which Vaca City Flyer finished second. "She'd been doing so good, we didn't know how good she was."

Vaca City Flyer's second-place finish in the 6 1/2-furlong sprint at Hollywood Park convinced Martin she probably couldn't handle the Jan. 29 Sunshine Millions - even though she had the lead in the stretch - and he decided it would be better to run her closer to home.

"This is a good spot," Martin said. "I'm feeling really good the way she's training, and Russell [Baze] is going to ride her."

Claimed for $8,000 from her maiden victory July 14 at Solano, Vaca City Flyer has five wins, a second, and a third in seven starts for Martin, including the victory over Yerevan Star in the Nov. 17 $50,000 optional claimer.

Following that race, Yerevan Star came back to beat a similar field Dec. 8. Haley said she was hoping to stretch Yerevan Star out for her next race, but decided she wasn't ready to run in a longer race. Haley opted instead to run her in Monday's sprint.

Vaca City Flyer and Yerevan Star face the toughest competition of their careers in Monday's race, which drew seven entrants, including speed types Lyin Goddess, Iflookscould-kill, Aisle Light, and Hippogator, as well as the closer Stormica.

Martin and Haley both said they feel their fillies don't need to be on the lead in order to run their best.

"I think she runs better when she's a little off the pace," Martin said.

Yerevan Star was second early when she won the Fairfield Stakes at Solano in only her third career start.

"Everything seems to be good," said Haley of their race preparations. "I don't know what we'll do strategy-wise, but she's really smart and adapts well."