05/12/2002 11:00PM

Firm course suits Fair Apache

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Fair Apache needs to win Wednesday's seventh race at Hollywood Park merely to cover her travel bill for May.

Two weeks ago, Fair Apache was entered in the Mamzelle Stakes for female turf sprinters at Churchill Downs, but was scratched when rain pelted the turf course.

Trainer Christopher Paasch estimates the trip to Kentucky cost $10,000, but he has no regrets of exiting the race after watching it unfold on a soggy course.

A quicker turf course at Hollywood should work to Fair Apache's favor against five others in a $60,000 allowance race over 5 1/2 furlongs.

Fair Apache is a confirmed front-runner and is racing on a turf course that has been favoring speed.

"If nobody goes with her, I can't win," said trainer Bobby Frankel, who starts Twin Set. "Speed is murder on the turf."

The 6-year-old Fair Apache has won two of five starts on this course, including the Valkyr Handicap for California-breds over 5 1/2 furlongs last July.

Paasch said he wants to keep Fair Apache racing at distances between 5 and 5 1/2 furlongs this year, her final year on the track before she is bred.

"I think 5 1/2 furlongs is the perfect distance and 6 1/2 is too far," he said. "She's doing really well right now."

A winner of nine of 30 starts and $276,934, Fair Apache was third in the Marshua River Stakes over five furlongs on turf at Gulfstream Park on April 14, three-quarters of a length behind Flying Birdie and Elvi Gamble.

"If we were outside instead of inside we might have won," Paasch said. "Elvi Gamble was kind of laying on her and she didn't like that."

Fair Apache will be challenged early on Wednesday by Channing Way, who has won six of eight starts and four stakes. Channing Way will be making her first start since July.

The closers include Twin Set, who was third in the Grade 3 Las Cienegas Handicap at Santa Anita on April 7, and Kalatiara, a sprint stakes winner in Australia in 2000. Trained by Ron McAnally, Kalatiara was sixth in the Santa Lucia Handicap on March 31, her first start on dirt.

Kalatiara won the Royal Heroine Stakes over a mile last summer on this turf course in her United States debut. Three months ago, she was fifth in a strong allowance race on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita.

"She had trouble breathing in that race," McAnally said. "She can run short."

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