03/12/2002 12:00AM

New winner Milicia may well win again

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ALBANY, Calif. - For a filly who won her maiden on her 16th try, Milicia has had unusual success against winners.

She will be looking for her second straight win for trainer Chuck Jenda in Thursday's co-feature, a 1 1/16-mile starter allowance turf race for older fillies and mares who have run for a $32,000 claiming tag.

Before she graduated as the 6-5 favorite in a maiden $32,000 turf race in her last start, Milicia had run three times against winners. In fact, she was favored and led in the lane before finishing second at this level on Sept. 19 at Bay Meadows. She also ran second and then third in $12,500 starter allowance races.

Milicia has eight seconds and three thirds in her 16 starts.

"She's run second a few times," Jenda said. "Some decent horses beat her, but she tries hard every time."

Milicia had two seconds and a third running on dirt when she ran for a $12,500 claiming tag early in her career. A 4-year-old daughter of Black Tie Affair out of the Majesty's Prince mare Mi Alicia, Milicia obviously has an affinity for the turf, hitting the board in nine of her 10 turf starts.

The victory in her last start was her first try against maiden claimers on the turf.

"Sometimes your hands are tied by pedigree and what level you can run at," Jenda said. "If we'd put her in for $12,500, she'd have won for fun."

But she probably wouldn't be in Jenda's barn any longer.

"She's got a lot of pedigree and has run well," Jenda said.

Stories abound at the racetrack of longtime maidens who finally win, then start beating winners.

Jenda hopes Milicia will be one of those stories.

"A couple races she probably thought she won," Jenda said.

Horses, like all athletes, gain confidence when they do well. Jenda compares horses to boxers and says it's important that they not be overmatched.

Although Milicia suffered some tough losses, Jenda was pleased she continued to keep trying.

Milicia may end up being favored over her five rivals in Thursday's race.

Funny Year is the only rival with a win on the turf, while Deputy Song is 0-for-8 on grass. Thursday's race marks the turf debut for Sunset Serenade, My Darling Brocco, and Jennifers Pub.

"The race came up with good timing for her," Jenda said of Milicia. "It was a good spot. After they break their maidens, I like to get a $32,000 starter race under their belt before they go through their conditions."

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