09/13/2008 12:00AM

Hot filly gets first dirt test


They haven't been able to stop her on Hollywood's Cushion Track or Del Mar's Polytrack in recent months, despite steadily moving up the claiming ladder. A full field, however, is slated to take a shot at the hot Proud Garrison as she goes for her fourth straight win in Monday's feature at Fairplex, a 6 1/2-furlong optional claiming sprint. Ten fillies are entered in the $43,000 contest, as well as an also-eligible.

Proud Garrison had hinted at ability early in her career, but the 3-year-old filly came into her own at Hollywood Park this spring. She was fourth in a restricted $12,500 claimer there May 22 and was claimed that day by trainer Jeff Mullins. Since then she has been on a tear. She beat $20,000 claimers there June 8, beat $25,000 foes there July 10, and then stepped up and beat $40,000 rivals at Del Mar on Aug. 3. All four career wins have come on synthetic footing, so Monday's race will be her first dirt attempt. So, she must deal with a new surface and a class hike, but her overall form is tough to ignore. Leading rider Martin Pedroza has the call.

It's not as if she has a big margin for error, however. Havens Lake comes here for trainer Bill Spawr having done nothing wrong in her career. She most recently rallied to be second, beaten just a length, in a turf sprint, an optional claimer for California-breds at Del Mar on Aug. 15. She has worked well since, and like the favorite will be making her first start on dirt. She gave Proud Garrison fits when they met under a $25,000 claiming price at Hollywood July 10, finishing second to that rival by just a half-length after taking the lead into the lane. Spawr claimed her that day, and it is encouraging that he again does not risk her for a tag. It is also a boon that Spawr comes here on a tear - he won with his first three runners this meet. Joe Talamo rides.

Newport Topper dueled and finished third for $20,000 at Del Mar on Aug. 17 as the favorite. She was claimed that day by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who has huge first-off-the-claim numbers (31 percent). Clinton Potts rides.

The most interesting entrant may be Belleacton, trained by Neil Drysdale. Drysdale isn't really known for starting horses at Fairplex, but he brought this quick filly here Sept. 7, after nothing but turf and synthetic-track starts, and she flourished, romping over maidens by seven lengths. She will be facing winners for the first time, but the manner of that Sept. 7 win hints that she may be a brand-new filly on this track.