04/21/2006 12:00AM

Fortunately owns proven grass form


ALBANY, Calif. - Vaca City Flyer and Fortunately are two proven sprinters, but there is one big unknown as they square off in the $40,000 Rockridge Stakes on Sunday at Golden Gate Fields. The five-furlong race is scheduled for the turf, a surface Fortunately is familiar with but on which Vaca City Flyer has never run.

is 6 for 22 on the grass and has won both her starts this year, with both coming in turf sprint stakes at Turf Paradise.

comes off a victory in the Mount Tam stakes that improved her career record to 10 victories in 20 starts. She will make her turf debut in the Rockridge.

"You always like to have the fact you've run on grass on your side," said Fortunately's trainer, Tim Yakteen. "When you're making your first start, you could excel even more or you might not like it at all."

Vaca City Flyer's trainer, Art Sherman, isn't sure what to expect.

"She may be a mare that likes to hear her feet rattle because she's done her best on fast and wet-fast tracks," he said. "I thought it was a good move to try the grass. She does like off tracks, and, if there's a chance it would come off the turf, it would help her. If she runs well, it gives me another option with her."

The race will also mark the turf debut for , who was third in the 1 1/16-mile Work the Crowd, which was switched from turf to the main track.

Comebacking stakes winner Vino Tino won her lone try at the distance at Del Mar last summer. Another horse returning from a layoff, Fannie Jo, also won at the distance last year.

How well Vaca City Flyer adapts to the turf will play a big role in the outcome. Her breeding does not suggest she particularly wants to run on grass, but she does love to win.

There are no questions about the surface or distance for Fortunately, who won the $76,000 Daisycutter at Del Mar last fall at the distance.

"She loves 4 1/2 and five furlongs," Yakteen said.

While she has speed, Fortunately is not a rocket ship. She can turn in sub-22-second opening quarters and carries that speed the rest of the way.

"She's not one dimensional," Yakteen said. "She can sit or go wire to wire. It's just however the race shapes up."