01/19/2006 12:00AM

Improving fillies to have say in stakes


SAN MATEO, Calif. - is a multiple stakes winner. Make Mine Minnie opened the new year with a stakes victory. Seam Seeker is stakes-placed. Loosends was fourth in a $100,000 stakes at Delaware, and Karlee's Kitten closed well in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet.

Yet it is two local runners making their stakes debuts who could be the ones to watch in Saturday's $75,000 Burlingame Handicap at one mile at Bay Meadows.

, a Golden Eagle Farm homebred by Event of the Year, won her debut in a turf route at Golden Gate Fields and will be making her second career start. Elusive Air, a $400,000 purchase, has finished second, first, and a troubled third in her three career starts.

, who was pulling away late in her victory in the Blue Norther at Santa Anita on Jan. 1, is the logical favorite. She also ran third in the Anoakia last fall at Santa Anita and has a stalking style that seems well suited to the distance.

She has shown steady improvement, but there may be more upside for Crystal Event and Elusive Air.

Crystal Event showed no early foot in her debut and rallied six wide before getting her head in front at the finish.

"I thought it was a good race because we were starting with a route," trainer Terry Knight said.

Although that race was on turf, Knight doesn't think grass is necessarily her best surface. "She tolerated it," he said of the surface, which was listed as good that day.

Knight would prefer to run Crystal Event in an allowance race rather than Saturday's stakes, but he didn't think an allowance route would be carded anytime soon.

"She's got a chance to be decent, but she's giving up lots of experience here," he said.

Trainer Chuck Jenda gets his chance to stretch out Elusive Air on Saturday.

Jenda, underscoring Knight's point, said: "I'd like to run her against lesser horses her first time around two turns. I'd prefer the first condition, but we're not going to get one."

Elusive Air ran third as the favorite in the mud in an allowance sprint on Dec. 31. She was all but eliminated by traffic problems, having to steady early. "We were a little discouraged, but she got into so much trouble," Jenda said.

Elusive Air should get a good stalking trip behind Seam Seeker, who beat her in her debut.

Seam Seeker, a daughter of mud-loving Bertrando, may thrive on a wet track at a mile despite drawing the outside post in the field of seven.