09/12/2007 11:00PM

With luck, P.S.U. Grad can take sales stakes

EmailPOMONA, Calif. - The least-experienced filly is burdened by the highest expectations in the $150,000 Barretts Debutante on Saturday at Fairplex Park.

P.S.U. Grad, victim of a brutal trip in her runner-up debut Aug. 26 at Del Mar, seeks redemption in the 6 1/2-furlong stakes restricted to 2-year-old fillies offered for sale at a Barretts auction. Six of the 10 main entrants are maidens; P.S.U. Grad figures to start as the tepid favorite in just her second career start.

It is a mere technicality that P.S.U. Grad is still a maiden. With any racing luck first out, the Craig Dollase trainee would have won clear. P.S.U. Grad broke slowly, lost position at the break, rushed into contention, and was gaining late. She lost by a neck behind perfect-trip front-runner Czechers.

Michael Shustek and Don Stanley own P.S.U. Grad, a Harlan's Holiday filly purchased for $275,000 at the March Barretts sale. Michael Baze is named to ride, but the race is not a lock for the lukewarm choice.

The improving maiden Royal Humor and habitual runner-up La Mina have earned speed figures (Beyers in the mid-70s) that put them in the hunt, while Ididntmeanto is likely to set the pace. She had no shot last time racing on Polytrack in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante.

"She just got buried on that track with all that speed," trainer Doug O'Neill explained. "She came out of it in great shape, and I would have to imagine it's a pretty good drop in class."

It is. Ididntmeanto won a maiden race Aug. 12 in gate-to-wire fashion, earning an 81 Beyer that is tops in the field. Tyler Baze rides the daughter of Fusaichi Pegasus.

O'Neill also starts Royal Humor, whose improved effort second time out stamps her as a leading contender in the Barretts. She set the pace, was blown away by the promising Cry and Catch Me, and finished second. It was a promising second start; Royal Humor may employ different tactics Saturday.

"She doesn't have to be on the lead," O'Neill said, "and we've got David 'I-know-how-to-ride-Pomona' Flores."

Flores is the all-time leading stakes rider at Fairplex Park. Royal Humor is a daughter of Distorted Humor.

La Mina has finished second in three straight, while front-runner Sharrene is racing for the first time since June and will keep the pace honest. Salt Castle and Stormy Racer each won a $32,000 maiden-claimer last time out. Seattle Avenue finished second in a maiden-claimer, and Getinnhereonetime finished fifth in the Generous Portion Stakes last time.