04/11/2006 11:00PM

Juveniles get first shot to race

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ALBANY, Calif. - Two-year-olds get their first chance to race in northern California on Friday at Golden Gate Fields when one filly will take on six male rivals in a four-furlong maiden race.

Trainer Jeff Bonde, who sent out the one-two finishers in the first maiden race of the year last year, sends out the likely favorite in the filly, Sharoana, a $25,000 purchase last September. She wound up her works with a 34.80 three-furlong gate drill that was the second-best of 29 workouts last Friday.

Bonde is good with 2-year-olds. He won with Lovely Lagoon in a two-furlong race Wednesday at Santa Anita. He ran one-two in last year's first 2-year-old race at Bay Meadows, winning with Tiza Royal Cat as Devons Smokin, a filly who later won the $125,000 CTBA Stakes at Del Mar, ran second.

The field of seven includes a pair of runners who debuted in a March 30 two-furlong race at Santa Anita. Youandiatdelmar was second, beaten 1 3/4 lengths, while Uartaphoneme ran ninth after getting into stride slowly.

Sharoana, a daughter of Lord Carson, is from the unraced dam Holiday Sale. Holiday Sale's only sibling won at first asking.

A Star of Hope has a pair of bullet works for his first start, while Tribal Trouble, by first-year sire Tribal Run, has a three-furlong bullet drill in the mud.

Golden Gate's racing secretary, Sean Greely, is not a believer in two-furlong races and did not schedule any this spring.

Last year, five two-furlong maiden races were scheduled at Bay Meadows, including a pair for claimers before racing moved to Golden Gate Fields, and Greely wrote 2-year-old races at 4 1/2 furlongs.

Greely is not sure the start of 2-year-old racing will do much to add to the racing population for the final three weeks of the Golden Gate Fields meeting.

"I think we're off to a slower start than normal because of the weather," Greely said. "There are only a few [2-year-olds] out there."

Northern California suffered from its wettest March in history, and the rains have continued this month.

"We have one filly in this race and had another that wanted to go but couldn't," Greely said.

California racing rules says that all runners cannot run in their 2-year-old season until after their foaling date.

* Cause to Believe, third in the Illinois Derby on Saturday, returned to Golden Gate Fields on Tuesday. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said the colt returned in good shape but no decision has been made as to whether he will run in the Kentucky Derby.