03/20/2008 11:00PM

Lage's filly should be fitter now


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Testify to Love, who missed by a neck at this level in her last start, is the logical choice when she faces five other 3-year-old fillies in a six-furlong $32,000 optional claiming race Sunday at Bay Meadows.

Testify to Love led until the final yards of a similar six-furlong race here Feb. 29, and was nipped by the solid sprinter Tail Spin Topper. That was Testify to Love's first since a wire-to-wire victory in a starter allowance Jan. 13 at Santa Anita.

"She tried very hard and had the lead in the stretch, but you could see the last sixteenth she was getting leg weary," said trainer Armando Lage. "That was a pretty nice filly that beat her. If we'd had time for one more work, maybe it would have made the difference."

Testify to Love, owned by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, won her career debut last November at Hollywood Park for a $32,000 tag. She placed sixth in the California Breeders' Championship in her next start before winning the starter allowance.

She then was sent north from Doug O'Neill's barn to Lage, who handles Tommy Town Thoroughbreds's Northern California string. Lage said O'Neill has been able to give him valuable information about Testify to Love.

"Some trainers don't talk a lot about their horses," Lage said. "Doug and I talk every day. We're on the same page. It's a lot of help. You know the horse better and what works. You learn about their little quirks."

Brigitta may be Testify to Love's toughest opponent in Sunday's race, which is also open to first-level allowance runners. Brigitta won her second straight race, a $40,000 starter allowance, two races after Testify to Love ran on Feb. 29. Testify to Love ran about .40 of a second faster and earned an 83 Beyer Speed Figure, 6 points higher than Brigitta.

Officer Allie, who won her debut in a straight maiden race, and Startjumpin Marnie, claimed for $50,000 by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer from her maiden win, also come into Sunday's race off a a victory.

* In the eighth race, a full field of 12 fillies and mares will run in a $25,000 optional claimer at one mile on the turf. The field includes Black Hills Goldie, who has won her last two starts, and her entrymate Doubloon City, a winner of five straight, who is on the also-eligible list.