08/20/2010 4:12PM

Free Flying Soul gets rematch in Rancho Bernardo

Benoit & Associates
Free Flying Soul will try to turn the tables on Sweet August Moon in Sunday's Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo Handicap at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Sunday is redemption day for Free Flying Soul, who must win the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo Handicap at Del Mar to reclaim her ranking as top female sprinter in California.

Five entered the 6 1/2-furlong race, including Sweet August Moon, who upset Free Flying Soul at Hollywood Park, Alpha Kitten, who missed the A Gleam with a fever but worked well recently, and outsiders Silver Swallow and Taste’s Sis.

Free Flying Soul finished second July 17 in the A Gleam at Hollywood, but she ran a winning race.

“Everybody was riding our horse; everybody was carrying her out,” trainer Bruce Headley said.

With Free Flying Soul caught four wide, Sweet August Moon cut the corner carrying six pounds less (122-116) and scored the upset. The loss did not diminish Headley’s opinion of Free Flying Soul, who has won six races and $423,177 from 16 starts.

“She’s at the top of her game, she’s doing really well,” Headley said and downplayed the significance of the rail post. “Nobody likes the inside, but it’s a short field, and she’s got speed.”

Rafael Bejarano takes over for Mike Smith, who rides Sunday at Woodbine.

In fact, Free Flying Soul should make the lead in a field that lacks speed. She can win if she holds off Sweet August Moon, whose A Gleam upset was her first win in more than a year for trainer Brian Koriner. She was off from April 2009 until January 2010 with an injury and needed five starts to regain form.

“She had no reason not to [regain form], but until they do it, it keeps you guessing,” Koriner said.

Sweet August Moon has won six races and $336,396 from 16 starts, but Koriner admits “she has not been real impressive in the mornings. She hasn’t seemed like she has worked real sharp over this racetrack.”

Alpha Kitten is unraced in more than two months, not by design. After finishing second to Free Flying Soul in a minor stakes in June, Alpha Kitten was to move up in class.

“Our plan all along was the A Gleam, but she got a 103-degree fever,” trainer John Sadler said.

Alpha Kitten has won 2 of 7, including a Grade 2 in January 2009, and has trained well over the Del Mar track, including a bullet six-furlong workout Aug. 14.

The Rancho Bernardo is race 4 on a nine-race card.