03/30/2006 1:00AM

Moscow Burning looks for third win of 2006


ALBANY, Calif. - The millionaire 6-year-old mare Moscow Burning is strictly the one to beat in Saturday's $100,000 Work the Crowd Handicap for California-bred fillies and mares at Golden Gate Fields, spotting six rivals from six to 13 pounds in the 1 1/16-mile turf race.

has won both of her starts this year, the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf and the $108,000 Pro or Con.

"She's push-button now," trainer James Cassidy said. "She wasn't that way in the beginning. She was rotten. It was a joke. In the beginning, I had five or six riders before I could get someone to coax her along in the morning at all. The first time Victor Espinoza got on her, she almost took him through the inside rail during the post parade."

Cassidy has been blessed by good fortune since claiming Moscow Burning for $25,000 on Aug. 7, 2003. She has earned $1,211,730 since then, winning the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Handicap, running second in a pair of Grade 1's, the John C. Mabee and Flower Bowl, and capturing two Cal Cup races.

Since returning from a six-month layoff in November, she has won three of four starts.

"There was something bothering her," Cassidy said of the layoff. "I couldn't put my finger on it, but when we gave her a nuclear scan, we saw she had a cracked pelvis."

The injury may have occurred when she was knocked sideways in the 2005 Sunshine Millions.

Now, Moscow Burning gets chiropractic treatment and wears a special magnetic blanket to stimulate blood flow before workouts and races.

In her past two wins, she has come from well off the pace after being a front-runner earlier in her career.

"When you ask her to go, she will," said Cassidy, who said the pacesetting efforts came in longer races. "She's ready to go any time."

Cassidy chose the Work the Crowd as part of his strategy to keep Moscow Burning in Cal-bred company before bigger turf races later in the year. He plans to scratch her if the race comes off the turf.

Somethinaboutlaura, purchased for $375,000 at the Fasig-Tipton mixed sale in February, will be Moscow Burning's toughest challenger on the turf, and the probable favorite on dirt with her front-running style.

"She's run well on both surfaces," said new trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

Somethinaboutlaura ran second to course specialist Cambiocorsa down the hill at Santa Anita in the Irish O'Brien in her first start for Hollendorfer.