10/11/2007 11:00PM

Maiden graduate in tough

EmailSAN MATEO, Calif. - Here's the good news for Jedd Josephson, the trainer of Gout de Terroir. He found a suitable race at Bay Meadows exclusively for 3-year-olds eligible for a first-level allowance. The bad news, however, is that the field for the one-mile turf race includes Bootleg Annie, who just won at this level for her sixth straight win, all on turf, and is entered back for a $40,000 tag under the race's optional claiming conditions.

Gout de Terroir finally won her maiden here Sept. 2 in her 10th start after hitting the board in six of her first nine races. She rallied from sixth in that one-mile turf race, which, like all of her races, came at the special weight level. She is the lone member of the field that has never run for a tag.

Still, said Josephson, "It's always a big step from maiden to the first condition."

A daughter of Belmont winner Lemon Drop Kid, Gout de Terroir finished second or third in her five races before her maiden win.

"She was always close, and she tries as hard as she can," Josephson said.

She finished third June 7 at Golden Gate and then didn't race again until July 25 at Santa Rosa. With the start of the fair circuit in Northern California there was no turf racing in the interim, and Josephson said he wanted to keep her on grass.

"She's not very big, so skipping a race wasn't a bad thing," he said.

Among Gout de Terroir's rivals is A P Bulletin, who has lost twice to Gout de Terroir but comes into the race with two straight wins over the turf here.

Bootleg Annie is 7 for 8 with a third since shifting to the turf. Among her victories were a 2o1/4-length score in the Wende at Turf Paradise in April and a win for a $25,000 tag here two starts ago. She was claimed from that race by trainer William E. Morey and won an optional claimer here Sept. 23 in her first start for him.

Also in the race are Lady in Love and Skimfast, second and third behind Bootleg Annie on Sept. 23.