09/13/2006 12:00AM

'Lemon Fresh' takes to turf


ALBANY, Calif. - For trainer Ellen Jackson, the decision was a no-brainer.

After Don Schnell privately purchased the 3-year-old filly Lemon Fresh Tide earlier this summer, he and Jackson opted to run her on the turf. She ran so well that Jackson says she will remain on grass, where she figures to be a strong contender in Friday's Golden Gate Fields feature, a $25,000 claimer for 3-year-old fillies at one mile.

"Her pedigree screams for turf, top and bottom," Jackson said of Lemon Fresh Tide, a daughter of Lemon Drop Kid out of the Storm Cat mare Tide Cat whose first six starts came on the main track. "When [Schnell] bought her, he wanted to run her on turf. I couldn't believe they hadn't tried her on turf down south.

"Our decision to run on turf was based strictly on pedigree. She'd had quite a few chances on dirt and only had one second in a pretty soft race."

In her first start in northern California, Lemon Fresh Tide won her maiden for a $32,000 tag, beating Bella Cantu, who has since won on the turf, and Jak Sie Macz, who won her next start.

Lemon Fresh Tide was favored in her next start, a $40,000 starter allowance where she ran evenly but was never a factor.

While she returns for a tag, this could be a tougher spot than the starter allowance race because she will be facing multiple winners.

River Lane has five career victories, two on turf, but all have come against easier at Turf Paradise. Delmita and Penny Power both have two wins, one on turf.

It's not only because she's bred for turf that Jackson plans to keep Lemon Fresh Tide on the grass.

"She's a scrappy-looking filly like you often see run well on the turf," Jackson said.

Jackson said turf is frequently kinder to horses than the main track, which is another reason she plans to keep her there.

Lemon Fresh Tide doesn't show much speed, a style that plays better on the turf than the main track. But, as she showed in her maiden victory, she can make a quick move into the lane.

Delmita has also shown an affinity for turf, with a win in a $20,000 claimer two back and a third-place finish against $32,000 claimers last time. She has more speed than Lemon Fresh Tide and should be able to stalk American Ivy, who drew the rail, and Turn the Corner, who set the pace in Lemon Fresh Tide's last start.

Southern California shipper Watch Me Win could also be a factor as she moves to the Art Sherman barn for her third start off a layoff.