01/28/2004 12:00AM

Lobo has mare back up north


ALBANY, Calif. - All three of Ilha Grande's career victories have come in northern California - albeit at Bay Meadows - and trainer Paulo Lobo can hardly wait to head north from Hollywood Park with the 5-year-old mare for Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Brown Bess Handicap at Golden Gate Fields.

The field for the 1 1/16-mile turf race should be a full one, with at least eight fillies and mares seeking their first graded stakes victory and the decisions of several others possible starters still up in the air.

Lobo is hoping for big things from Ilha Grande, who twice tried to win her maiden race over the turf here last year, but finished seventh and fourth.

"She has been training very well," he said.

Ilha Grande took a long time to develop. She has made all nine career starts on turf.

"She doesn't work so well on dirt," Lobo said. "She was a May foal. She's by Spinning World, and he seems to have late developers."

Ilha Grande earned her diploma at Bay Meadows last June 1. She finished in midpack at Hollywood Park in an allowance race one month later before winning two straight, including the Hillsborough Handicap, on the Bay Meadows turf course.

Lobo twice was set to run her in stakes in New York and Kentucky but didn't ship when she only made the also-eligible list for each race.

He brought her back at Hollywood Park in a tough allowance race on Dec. 13, where she ran third, beaten by 1 1/2 lengths.

"She ran good, but she needs a softer course," Lobo said.

She'll get that Saturday.

Lobo said that Quero Quero, the "big horse in my barn," would pass the Brown Bess.

A B Noodle, Abbey Brigade, Hippogator, Hooked on Niners, Just Bill Me, Lady's Mantle, and Red Rioja will join Ilha Grande in the field.

Raider Nation sprinting again

Raider Nation, who just scored an impressive victory in a $40,000 starter allowance, has nine rivals in Friday's Golden Gate Fields feature, a $25,000 claimer at six furlongs.

After two disappointing route tries, Raider Nation returned to a sprint, stalked nicely and pulled away to win by 4 1/2 lengths. The victory prompted trainer Brian Koriner to say he would keep Raider Nation sprinting for a while.

Jamican Blue, who has won 3 of 5 starts, may be the one to beat, although he was just claimed for $32,000 when he finished third to snap a three-race winning streak. Demon Warlock, who beat him that day, is also entered.