09/11/2003 11:00PM

Firth of Lorne choice

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Firth of Lorne, a group stakes-placed Irish-bred filly, tops the field for Sunday's Bay Meadows feature, a $50,000 optional claiming race at one mile on turf.

A 4-year-old filly, Firth of Lorne finished third in a Group 3 stakes race and second in a Group 1 race as a 3-year-old.

She was an odds-on favorite for trainer Eoin Harty in her return to racing after a 14-month layoff at Del Mar last month. Running in a $62,500 optional claiming race, she broke a bit slowly and was never really a factor, finishing fourth of seven, beaten 6 1/4 lengths by Top Spinner.

She looks tough in her second U.S. start, despite only two slow workouts since her last start.

Her 10 filly and mare opponents will provide her an interesting test.

Poison Ivy, who runs for the $50,000 claiming tag, comes off a victory for a $40,000 tag Aug. 14 at Del Mar. She has won 3 of her last 4 starts, with all three victories coming for a $40,000 tag.

Ec Lady has eight career victories on turf. She finished fourth, beaten three lengths by Poison Ivy, after leading in the stretch in her last start.

Dancing Sands, who has moved up the claiming ladder and has two wins and two seconds in six starts over the turf here, could provide competition late with her strong closing kick.

Perhaps the most interesting of Firth of Lorne's rivals is Cinema Paradisa, a 3-year-old making her turf debut after trainer Jerry Hollendorfer nominated her to Saturday's Carmel Handicap but opted for this spot instead.

Cinema Paradisa has not run since stopping badly and finishing last in the Pleasanton Senorita on July 3, but she set a fast and pressured pace that day. In her previous start, she stretched out to one mile for the first time and ran the best race of her career, an eight-length score in which she led throughout.

Figueroa suspension

Jockey Omar Figueroa was handed a three-day suspension for his ride aboard Loaded Mischief last Monday. Figueroa was cited by stewards for "crossing over without sufficient clearance around the far turn and causing interference resulting in the disqualification of his mount from first to eighth."

The suspension will run Wednesday through Friday.

Figueroa was off to a slow start, with only two victories from his first 40 mounts before winning Friday's opening race aboard A Reel Tizzy.