01/25/2008 12:00AM

Gemstone sticks out on versatility


Different tracks and different surfaces haven't bothered Gemstone Rush in the least. The 6-year-old mare has won on the dirt at Golden Gate, on an off track at Bay Meadows, in the slop at Emerald, on Golden Gate's new Tapeta surface, and she has won twice on the turf. That versatility sends her into Sunday's $50,000 Kachina Handicap at Turf Paradise as the horse to beat.

A field of 10 fillies and mares is entered in the mile race on the main track.

Gemstone Rush is owned by Jerry Hollendorfer and George Todaro and trained by Hollendorfer. She has shown versatility not only in her handling of different footing, but also in terms of running style. She won wire to wire on the Golden Gate dirt in December 2006. Her Bay Meadows dirt win last March was from just off the pace. And her Emerald Distaff Handicap win, in the slop last August, was from well off the pace. So was her last start, when she rallied to beat allowance rivals on Golden Gate's Tapeta on Nov. 15. She's worked well while getting a break from racing, and figures tough here. Seth Martinez rides.

Fleet Caroline poses a significant hurdle. Like Gemstone Rush, she is an invader - only she spent her entire career in Southern California. Fleet Caroline showed plenty ability in late 2006 and early 2007, posting three straight wins on three different surfaces - Hollywood's Cushion Track, Santa Anita's dirt, Hollywood's turf. That was enough to earn her a shot in the Grade 2 San Clemente on the turf at Del Mar, where she ran a game second. She then dueled in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, but faltered to ninth, the start of a slight decline. She ran seventh in an Oak Tree turf stakes last October, was freshened, and then was no factor when last of six behind the unbeaten Zenyatta in the Grade 2 El Encino at Santa Anita on Jan. 13. The significant drop in class on Sunday might get her back on the board. The one time Fleet Caroline tried this distance on dirt, she won by 12 lengths. Scott Stevens rides.

Film Editor, another Southern California invader, merits respect as well. Owned by George Krikorian and trained by Clay Brinson, the 6-year-old mare beat first-level allowance runners at Santa Anita Oct. 4. But she was no factor when sixth in the California Cup Matron there Nov. 3 behind Romance Is Diane, who came back to win the Grade 2 Bayakoa at Hollywood Park in December.

Film Editor has been freshened since and looms a late threat. Chris Landeros rides.