04/15/2009 11:00PM

Limited turf prowess in Golden Poppy


There are plenty of questions to be answered about the nine 3-year-old fillies entered in Saturday's $75,000 Golden Poppy Stakes at Golden Gate Fields. The field for the 1 1/16-mile turf stakes contains no accomplished turf runners.

Palace Mistress scored her maiden victory in her turf debut in the Treasure Town Stakes at Turf Paradise two weeks ago in her second start. Sweetwaterwind, second in the Scottsdale Handicap on the turf before graduating on grass in her next start, ran third behind Palace Mistress in the Treasure Town. A pair of Irish-breds, Maid for Music and Cornish Rose, both graduated on the turf in Great Britain and have each made one start in the United States.

False Impression recorded her maiden victory on the turf last year at Aqueduct, while Glacier Peak has a second and pair of thirds in four turf tries. Digestivo, an entrymate of Glacier Peak, will be making her turf debut, while Point of Reference and Summers Peace will make their second turf starts.

Point of Reference is the most accomplished member of the field. She has the most victories, three, and highest career earnings, $72,168. But her lone off-the-board effort came on the turf when she ran fifth in the China Doll Stakes at Santa Anita. She returned here and scored an allowance victory on the main track in her last start on March 27.

"We want to give her another shot," said Frank Lucarelli, who trains the filly for Jack and Ivor Jones. "I think shipping down south she wasn't as sharp as she could have been." Jockey Leslie Mawing, said Lucarelli, "thought she handled the turf fine."

Lucarelli played it a little safe with Point of Reference when she made her debut in a $32,000 maiden claimer last October. She ran third. She won for the same claiming price in her next start and captured a starter allowance race before running third in the six-furlong Tiburon in her 3-year-old debut.

"She's a better horse than I assessed her," he said. "Once she began to run, she got better. At this point, I think she can run with horses in Northern California, and, if she runs well, there are a lot of spots to run in."