10/13/2004 11:00PM

Lady Truffles stretches out, but not with Baze


ARCADIA, Calif. - Lady Truffles finished second in her debut at 5 1/2 furlongs, after which jockey Tyler Baze said, "Wait until she goes two turns." In her next start, also at 5 1/2, Lady Truffles finished second. "Wait until she goes two turns," Baze repeated.

In her third start, a seven-furlong stakes, ran second again, followed by the now-familiar postrace mantra. On Saturday, the wait is over. In the $125,000 California Cup Juvenile Fillies, the final race on the 10-race California Cup card at Santa Anita, Lady Truffles stretches out to two turns. This time, there are no excuses for the John Sadler trainee. A mile and a sixteenth is ideal for the steady-paced grinder.

"My filly doesn't have a kick, she just keeps coming along," Sadler said. "She's steady."

And although Lady Truffles is a maiden, she is stakes placed, her pace and speed figures have improved each start, she continues to train well, and she enters the Juvenile Fillies as the most likely winner. Victor Espinoza will ride, as Baze jumps to recent maiden winner Sip One for Mom, a surprise decision made by Baze's agent, Ivan Puhich.

Thirteen entered the Juvenile Fillies, including a pair of two-time winners who have defeated Lady Truffles - Cover Gal stakes winner Short Route and Barretts Debutante winner Lunar Flight. Seven of the first 15 renewals of the Juvenile Fillies have been won by the favorite, including five at odds-on. This year's field is without a solid favorite - stakes winner Coastal Strike is out with tender shins, and stakes winner Memorette is aiming for the Breeders' Cup.

Short Route commands respect. She won her Aug. 1 debut at odds of 52-1, then was fourth behind Coastal Strike and Memorette in a six-furlong stakes. Owner-trainer-breeder Joe Herrick was aiming Short Route to the Cal Cup, but when the seven-furlong Cover Gal on Sept. 29 came up soft, Herrick put her in. Short Route, a Mud Route filly, outfinished Lady Truffles by a length with a 74 Beyer, and enters Saturday as a main contender under jockey Cesar Dealba.

There are plenty of longshot alternatives. Sip One for Mom and Kachina Dream are the only starters who have won over a route of ground. Sip One for Mom won a modest maiden race Sept. 30 with a 68 Beyer; Kachina Dream looked good winning the Black Swan Stakes at Fairplex Park with an ordinary 60 Beyer. Though she is not fast, she will be finishing.

The filly to catch is Planning Surprises. A maiden trained by Bob Baffert, Planning Surprises was compromised by a fast pace in her first route and tired to fourth. She is eligible to improve in her second start around two turns, at a price that will be much higher than the 3-5 she started at last time. Cee's Irish was purchased privately since finishing second behind Sip One for Mom. She runs Saturday for Merv Griffin and trainer Doug O'Neill.

The field also includes Burning Affair, Hold the Game, Miss Bobbie Quick, Crimson Kristine, Home Ice, and Irish Mafia.

The field

California Cup Juvenile Fillies
Purse: $125,000; 11/16 miles

1Sip One for MomT. Baze5-1
2Burning AffairO. Figueroa20-1
3Planning SurprisesR.R. Douglas6-1
4Hold the GameM. Pedroza20-1
5Lunar FlightG. Gomez3-1
6Miss Bobbie QuickJ. Santiago30-1
7Short RouteC. DeAlba9-2
8Cee's IrishR. Baze15-1
9Crimson KristineF. Martinez30-1
10Kachina DreamM. Garcia8-1
11Lady TrufflesV. Espinoza8-1
12Home IceD. Flores10-1
13Irish MafiaA. Bisono30-1

* All starters carry 118 pounds
* Odds by Michael Hammersly