11/10/2004 1:00AM

This 'Gal' a horse for course


AUBURN, Wash. - Back Street Gal heads a cast of nine in Friday's best race at Portland Meadows, a 5 1/2-furlong test for fillies and mares eligible to be claimed for $8,000 to $6,250.

Back Street Gal suffered her first loss from nine starts at Portland Meadows when she finished ninth and last in the Oct. 23 Diane Kem Handicap, which marked her seasonal debut. Back Street Gal, a 4-year-old daughter of Cisco Road who races for Ed Fischer and trainer Robert Terry, won her last two starts at the 2003-04 stand while racing six furlongs for an $8,000 claiming price. She has four stakes victories over the Portland Meadows course. Elsewhere, she is winless from six starts and has only one third.

Back Street Gal figures to get her sternest challenge from Miz Heather, who is coming off a powerful 2 1/4-length win over $8,000 claimers on opening day, Oct. 16, when she went six furlongs in 1:11.80. Miz Heather, a 6-year-old from the barn of James Sayler, arrived here sharp from Emerald Downs, where she won a 6 1/2-furlong race against $6,250 claimers in September.

Two other entrants are coming off wins, but both are 3-year-olds who will be stepping up significantly. Swing the Belle and Surfin' Kat both scored on Nov. 1. Swing the Belle defeated $3,200 claimers by 6 1/2 lengths, and Surfin' Kat beat restricted $6,250 company by three-quarters of a length. Swing the Belle, who will be shooting for her third straight score, was claimed by trainer Jonathan Nance out of her Nov. 1 win and will make her first start for owner Bill Bomar on Friday.