12/12/2003 1:00AM

Itsaprospector has edge over first-timers


ALBANY, Calif. - Seven 2-year-old maidens will try to join the ranks of winners in Sunday's best race at Golden Gate Fields.

Four of the runners in the six-furlong race are first-time starters, and they are facing tough challenges.

Itsaprospector, who drew the outside post, is the one to beat. A $37,000 Barretts purchase, Itsaprospector has run second in both his starts, showing improvement when he ran in the mud in his second race.

In his debut, he was second to stakes winner Market Report. Jet West, who ran third in that race, came back to win his next start.

Itsaprospector is a stalker. Both Free Cocktails and Silent Gold have shown good early speed, which will test any of the first-timers who try to go to the front.

Three of the four first-timers have bullet works in preparation for their debuts. Record Smashed, a $100,000 Barretts purchase, had a six-furlong bullet in the mud on a slow workday on Dec. 3, and he had strong works before that and has turned in a good half-mile blowout since. He could provide the top opposition to to Itsaprospector.

Rileys Orbit had a 59.60-second bullet for five furlongs in the mud on Dec. 4, while Thekingcandance had a six-furlong bullet the same day.

Ema Bovary points for Santa Anita

Ema Bovary, the Chilean-bred filly who has strung together five straight victories, will make her next start in the $75,000 Kalookan Queen at 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita on Dec. 31.

"If she wins, we'll look at the Grade 1 next," said trainer Larry Ross, referring to the seven-furlong, $250,000 Santa Monica on Jan. 25.

Ema Bovary is undefeated since losing her first U.S. start in the Richmond Handicap on Feb. 16. She wheeled sharply coming out of the gate in that race and found herself trailing by 19 lengths at the first call.

She then won four straight stakes, two at Golden Gate Fields and two at Emerald Downs, before running in a six-furlong $100,000 optional claimer at Hollywood Park on Nov. 29. She defeated stakes winner Bear Fan by a neck while earning a 103 Beyer.

Perez suspended for interference

Miguel Perez, tied for fifth in the jockey standings with 15 victories from 82 mounts, was suspended for three days (Dec. 17-19) for, the stewards ruled, "altering course without sufficient clearance down the backstretch and causing interference" aboard Ceelinctive in the ninth race on Dec. 7.

Perez is already within one win of his total for the Bay Meadows meeting, where he finished tied for 10th with 16 victories.