10/07/2008 11:00PM

Harvest Futurity proves attractive


When the Big Fresno Fair made adjustments in its stakes schedule for this year, there were some concerns over what would happen. The adjustment for Friday’s $50,000 Harvest Futurity seems to have worked out fine.

The six-furlong race was formerly an open race for 2-year-olds. This year’s version is for 2-year-old California-bred fillies, and the race attracted eight entrants, five of them based in Southern California.

Many of the state’s top juvenile fillies were asked to go two turns in the Cal Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita last Sunday, so a Cal-bred sprint like the Harvest was attractive to those who didn’t want to send their filly long.

Marty Jones is one of the Southern California-based trainers taking advantage of the Harvest Futurity’s new conditions. He sends out Costa Marta, who is owned by Donald Valpredo and was bred by Jones and Valpredo.

Jones is a bit concerned about the timing of the race, because Costa Marta won her maiden on Sept. 24. Jones considered running the Bertrando filly in the Cal Cup, but he didn’t want to run her long for the first time against stakes company.

“We’re looking forward to stretching her out,” he said of his plans for after Friday’s race.

Costa Marta ran fourth in her July 25 debut at Del Mar and third there Aug. 23 before graduating at 6 1/2 furlongs on the Pro-Ride at Santa Anita. She was pulling away at the end.

“She’s run a couple real nice races,” Jones said. “We’re running back a little quicker than we’d like, but this race seems like a good spot.”

Costa Marta, who will be ridden by Ricky Frazier, brings in the best career Beyer in the field, a 79 earned in her second start, and the best last-race Beyer, a 73. She has stalked the pace in each of her three starts and finished well.

“She’s been real versatile,” Jones said, “and, knock on wood, she’s a good gate horse. She’s been a real smart filly and seems to take everything well.”

Jones’s primary concern is shipping Costa Marta from Hollywood Park, where she trains, to Fresno.

“It’s always a little difficult when you ship that far, but I think she should handle it, and we’ll learn a little more about her from the experience,” Jones said.

Among her rivals are Got Tobe Rio, third in the Juan Gonzalez at Pleasanton, and Epitome of a Lady, the lone member of the field with two wins. Marquee Player and Shouldabeenmaizey both come out of their stakes debuts, while Steal My Charm has also tried stakes company. Keon and Madraar’s Mag both come off a maiden win.

Locals do good down south

Racing resumes Friday at Golden Gate, which has not run the past two Wednesdays and Thursdays to prevent an overlap with Fresno. Both tracks will run the next four days, including Monday’s Columbus Day holiday.

While Golden Gate Fields will not run a stakes this weekend for the second week in row, locally based horses picked up some important stakes wins last weekend.

The Greg Gilchrist-trained Indyanne captured the Grade 3 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes by a head Saturday at Keeneland to qualify for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

Later Saturday, the Gilchrist-trained Victorina was a fast-finishing third in the $100,000 Ken Maddy in her turf debut at Santa Anita.

Northern California sprinters dominated at Cal Cup, with favored Tribesman, owned by Kjell Qvale, trained by Roger Hansen and ridden by Russell Baze, winning the Cal Cup Sprint and the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Kool Comic winning the Cal Cup Starter Sprint. The two could meet in the $75,000 Sausalito at Golden Gate on Nov. 22.

Trato, owned by John Cavalli, the Owners Stable and trainer Armando Lage, lost in the closing strides in the Cal Cup Starter Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on the turf.

* Fresno racing secretary Tom Doutrich said he has 20 nominees for Sunday’s $50,000 Bull Dog Stakes, which will be run at a mile. One horse who won’t be running is the defending champion Pass the Heat, who ran fourth in Sunday’s Cal Cup Mile.