10/26/2006 11:00PM

Las Palmas caps meeting


ARCADIA, Calif. - Two nice little grass stakes Sunday, closing day of the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita, provide a smooth transition into the Hollywood Park fall meet that begins Wednesday.

The Grade 2 Las Palmas Handicap for fillies and mares and the Grade 3 Morvich Handicap for sprinters lead to the Autumn Turf Festival at Hollywood. Grass, grass, and more grass. This fall, there is no shortage of that.

But say so long to dirt. Six races on the main track Sunday are the last dirt races at a major Southern California track until Santa Anita reopens Dec. 26. The racing world changes Wednesday when the Cushion Track era begins at Hollywood Park. Who knows what tomorrow brings.

Meanwhile, Oak Tree is ending with a bang for trainer Paddy Gallagher, who won with four of his last nine starters (through Friday) and will enter Hollywood fall with recent 2-year-old stakes winners Dilemma, a colt, and Berriestoheaven, a filly. They will attempt a dirt-to-Cushion Track transition next month, but Singalong will stay with what works - turf.

Dropping from a Grade 1, Singalong will be well-fancied among the nine that entered the $150,000 Las Palmas, a mile turf stakes that is a prep for the Grade 1 Matriarch on Nov. 26. The field includes Beautyandthebeast and Berbatim, one-two in the restricted Swingtime Stakes early this month, as well as European import Clinet, Movie Star, Sandra's Rose, Quemar, Strong Faith, and Sohgol.

Singalong was a short filly, and possibly outclassed, when she returned from a layoff of nearly three months in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon. Three wide throughout, she made a run at Wait a While on the far turn, got to within one length of that rival, tired in the lane, and lost third only in the final sixteenth. She finished sixth.

"I thought she ran very well," Gallagher said. "She hadn't run in a while, she made a nice run, and maybe she could have been a little tighter. All in all it was a good performance."

Singalong had won four of her previous five starts, including a mile stakes at Hollywood. She took the summer off from racing, but remained in training. Gallagher said a trip to Canada was scrapped because of shipping complications, and Del Mar was too tough.

David Flores rides Singalong on Sunday, and her rivals include European comebacker Clinet. She arrived from Europe with Oak Tree Derby winner Dark Islander, but has not raced since March after cutting her leg. Clinet, 5 for 23 and a listed stakes winner, will run for trainer John Hills, but Gallagher has cared for her the last three weeks.

"She settled in really nice, and has worked really well on the turf here," Gallagher said. "She looks well, acts really well."

Beautyandthebeast will be ridden by leading jockey Corey Nakatani, who entered closing weekend six clear on the jockey standings. Based on her 1:33.37 win early this month (she raced the final quarter in 22.40), Beautyandthebeast might be the one to beat.