06/09/2004 11:00PM

Kurlicue meets four in Oaks


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Saturday's $75,000-added California Oaks is often the crowning achievement for 3-year-old fillies at Bay Meadows.

Southern California invader Kurlicue looks as if she has a tiara firmly planted on her head, as she has only four rivals in the 1 1/16-mile race on the turf course.

"The trip should be fine for her," said trainer James Cassidy, who saddled her for a game victory in her United States debut last month at Hollywood Park.

Cassidy is not completely sure what he has in the filly, who twice beat colts as a 2-year-old and ran third to the eventual Santa Anita Derby winner, Castledale, in her native Ireland last year.

Saturday's race should be a good test.

Secret Corsage is looking for her first stakes victory. She has run second in three stakes, including the San Jose May 15 when she set the pace before giving way to entrymate Heavenly Humor.

Secret Corsage's stablemate Crozet makes her stakes debut here. Both her victories have come on the turf.

Another interesting contender could be Lost Bride, despite her last-place finish in the San Jose. Lost Bride put back-to-back victories together before the San Jose, which was run on the main track.

Lost Bride won her turf debut, a first-level allowance race, by six lengths.

Before the San Jose, her trainer, Chuck Jenda, said he would have preferred to run on the turf rather than the main track that day.

West Coast Monarch rounds out the field. She ran sixth at 84-1 in her debut. She does have a work over the course but looks like she is aiming for the $1,875 assured for fifth place.

There seems to be plenty of speed in the race.

In her U.S. debut, Kurlicue won going wire to wire, finishing strongly after setting soft fractions. Secret Corsage set faster fractions in the San Jose and looks like the one to catch here.

Both Lost Bride and Crozet sat just off the pace in their turf victories here.

Kurlicue may not need the lead to run her best race, according to Cassidy. She drew the rail and may have to be used a bit early but should be able to stalk and save ground.

Cassidy's lone concern is how Kurlicue will handle Bay Meadows's deep turf course.

"Some have a tendency to need a race over it," he said.