11/12/2004 12:00AM

Midwife thriving on grass


ALBANY, Calif. - Two fillies who blossomed on the Bay Meadows turf course will try to carry that form to Golden Gate Fields on Sunday in the $50,000-added Star Ball Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

The first stakes of the meeting, the Star Ball Handicap was originally scheduled for opening day, Wednesday, but was postponed after it failed to fill.

Nine fillies and mares signed up for the race, including Midwife and Tricky Surf, both of whom scored three wins over the turf at Bay Meadows.

, the 3-year-old filly of the meeting at Bay Meadows, had only a $12,500 maiden claiming win in six tries on the dirt when she switched surfaces Aug. 13. Trainer Jedd Josephson said he gave her a shot on the turf because of her breeding - her dam's sire is Dynaformer, who was an excellent turf runner.

"Once on the turf, it made her a much better horse," said Josephson.

Josephson said he will only run Midwife if the race stays on turf Sunday.

Midwife's first two turf wins came against older horses, and in wire-to-wire fashion. Still, Josephson said he would rather run against 3-year-olds.

Josephson said his main concern is whether Midwife can relax and rate early.

"She hasn't beaten anyone really good, and she's had things her own way," Josephson said. "She's gone out uncontested. Hopefully, she'll sit back a little bit. She's really impressed me, but she'll have to settle down to beat really good fillies."

All four of Tricky Surf's career victories have come on the turf, including a straight maiden victory at Santa Anita.

Trainer Steve Specht tried her on the turf at a $6,250 claiming price because she ran so poorly over the Bay Meadows main surface. She won, then beat a $6,250 starter allowance field, and then scored in an allowance race.

"In her starts on grass, she's run to her ability," Specht said. "This is another step up, but I thought she was really stepping up last time."

Specht said he is not sure whether Tricky Surf will run if the race is switched to dirt, but trainer Greg Gilchrist will go on either surface with multiple stakes winner Frisco Belle.