01/15/2004 12:00AM

Miss California gets six after all


ALBANY, Calif. - With only three probables earlier in the week, Saturday's $60,000-added Miss California Stakes at Golden Gate Fields looked as if it wouldn't even be run. But on Thursday six 3-year-old fillies were entered in the six-furlong sprint, and it has turned out to be a strong race.

"For this kind of field, I think they deserve to run for more money," said trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who will run two.

Hollendorfer sends out a pair of John Franks-bred fillies, Heavenly Humor and Secret Corsage, to meet the sharp Smoke Break, stakes winners Uppity Kitty and Swingn' Notes, and Little Foxy Baby.

In Heavenly Humor's first two races, she ran second to Wildwood Flower and beat Bending Strings. Heavenly Humor has been scratched twice since that Oct. 26 race.

"She was sick," Hollendorfer said. "She had a couple bouts with temperatures, but I've got her doing good right now."

Heavenly Humor draws post 5 in what could turn out to be a tactically tricky race.

"When you have five or six running, it's harder than when it's a full field," Hollendorfer said. "The speed can't set up as naturally because you have to get position early."

The stakes-placed Smoke Break makes a quick return from an impressive allowance victory on Jan. 7. The Miss California will be her third start since she came back from a nearly four-month layoff on Dec. 12. Smoke Break was second that day, beaten eight lengths by Bending Strings, but was five lengths in front of the third-place finisher.

"Unfortunately, there's nothing else to shoot for," said Gil Matos, Smoke Break's trainer. "The next available spot is in March. I know this is coming back quickly, but she came out of the last race well. That's exactly the reason we're running. You can do that once."

Smoke Break relaxed nicely in her latest start and finished strongly to defeat stakes-winning Lyin Goddess. Post 2 may force Smoke Break to move early on Saturday.

Uppity Kitty, who lost to Halfbridled and Tarlow in her first two starts, makes her first start since holding off Quanah County by a nose in the Courtship Stakes at Bay Meadows on Oct. 5.

"She had a tough campaign at Del Mar, but I ran her one more time," said trainer Jeff Bonde, who has given Uppity Kitty a steady series of drills at Santa Anita for her comeback.

Bonde is eager for the return of Uppity Kitty, who has good speed and draws just outside Smoke Break. Bonde sees the New York-bred Uppity Kitty as primarily a sprinter and thinks he may race her in New York later in the year.