07/02/2008 11:00PM

New level for filly and her trainer


Saturday's $50,000 Alameda County Fillies and Mares Handicap at the Alameda County Fair is not just the stakes debut for Double Dip. It's also the stakes debut for her trainer, Amanda McKaughan.

McKaughan said that ever since she saw Double Dip's name on the entry sheet, it has begun to sink in that she's saddling a stakes horse.

"It's kind of come upon me now that there's the word 'stakes' about her next race," McKaughan said.

She just hopes the confidence her filly exudes will ease her own nervousness. Double Dip comes into the 1 1/16-mile race with two straight turf victories, in a starter allowance at Bay Meadows and most recently in a June 7 allowance. There are few second-level allowance opportunities on the fair circuit so the stakes is a logical spot, especially for a sharp horse.

"She's one of those horses, when you're around her, her confidence rubs off on you," McKaughan said. "When you're walking her to the track, she knows what she's doing. She loves her job. She has that sense that she's about to win."

While she's the only filly in the field of six making her stakes debut, Double Dip has something in common with four of her rivals. They will all be making the switch from turf to dirt.

Only Rivoltella, a two-time stakes winner on dirt at Emerald Downs and Turf Paradise, is coming off a main-track effort, having run last in the Grade 3 Hawthorne Handicap over the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park on May 4.

Andover the Cash and Come on Margaret, Saturday's likely pacesetter, were third and fifth in the June 21 Work the Crowd on the Golden Gate Fields turf course, while Dixie Magic's race was in a May 24 optional claimer on the turf.

She's Sensational, whose three-race win streak was snapped in a 1 3/8-mile turf marathon, the Yerba Buena on June 8 at Golden Gate Fields, looms the one to beat, and she has defeated Double Dip.

"That was only her second start off a long layoff, and she's gotten better ever since," McKaughan said of Double Dip.

"I think she'll be very competitive here. She does so well on the turf, but she has won on the dirt. This is a short field, and I think she can tuck in just behind the leader.

"And it helps to have Chris Landeros ride her. He says this is one of his favorite horses. We picked him because his riding style of trying to be close to the pace fits this filly."