02/16/2002 12:00AM

La Martina tops Cal Oaks


ALBANY, Calif. - A field of seven lightly raced 3-year-old fillies are scheduled to run in the California Oaks, Golden Gate Fields's holiday feature on Monday.

The $55,000-added race is at 1 1/16 miles on the turf course.

La Martina, trained by Jenine Sahadi, is the highweight at 120 pounds. Runaway Ab, winner of the Corte Madera Stakes on the Golden Gate Fields main track Dec. 29, is next at 118 pounds.

Rounding out the field is the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained entry of Glitter Gulch and Redmond, Krisana, Forty on Line, and My Sand Dollar.

Sahadi clients Team Valor and Gary Barber purchased the British-bred La Martina after she won her debut and ran third in her next start. She won the Hidden Light Stakes in her U.S. debut at Santa Anita on Oct. 19.

La Martina has finished off the board only once in five turf starts, the Grade 3 Miesque on Nov. 23 at Hollywood Park, which was won by Forty on Line. La Martina came back from that fourth-place finish to run third in the Jan. 9 Blue Norther at Santa Anita.

La Martina faces only two other turf winners in the field: Redmond, a Jan. 17 allowance winner over this course, and Krisana, who won her maiden on the turf at Aqueduct on Nov. 15 after finishing second in her debut on the turf at Belmont.

"She trained well on the grass at Saratoga so we kind of fell into a turf race," trainer Steve Young said. "One thing in New York is you get a chance to run 2-year-olds on grass."

By Kris S. out of the Grey Dawn II mare French Binnana, Krisana is bred for the turf. But, Young said, "She's trained great on the dirt, too."

Young considered the Blue Norther for Krisana's comeback.

"I thought it came up a little hard so this became our goal," he said.

Young said Krisana will eventually run on dirt. "I wanted to run on the turf because I didn't think the first time against winners I wanted to try too many new things," Young said. "Meeting winners is enough."

Runaway Ab, making her turf debut, is the only other stakes winner in the field.

"She's been training steady, and she always looked like she could be a turf horse," trainer James Chapman said.

"She just keeps improving. She'll be better as a 3-year-old than she was a 2-year-old, and she'll be a better


"I think she's a Kentucky Oaks-type filly. She's a quality filly, and this was the next logical spot."

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