07/04/2005 11:00PM

No lead no problem for 'Sexy'

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PLEASANTON, Calif. - In a race filled with speed, is it wise to bet a speed horse who may not get the lead? It may be Thursday when seven fillies and mares meet in a $25,000 optional claimer at the Alameda County Fair.

Sexy Helmsman is usually on or near the lead, and even if she doesn't make the front in Thursday's 5 1/2-furlong race, she may have the class to get the job done. She has run decently against better from off the pace and seems capable of showing improvement in her second start of the year.

Trainer Brian Koriner brought Sexy Helmsman back from a year's layoff in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance race on the turf May 28 at Hollywood Park. Despite breaking a bit slowly from the rail, Sexy Helmsman established an early lead before tiring late and fading to sixth. But she was beaten only 1 3/4 lengths in a fast race.

, 4, ended her 3-year-old season with an 11-length maiden win at Bay Meadows in May followed by a win there in a $32,000 starter allowance. Ankle problems sent her to the sidelines, but she's healthy now, Koriner said, and training well, including two bullet works among four drills since her Hollywood Park start.

Although she won her maiden for a $32,000 claiming tag, Sexy Helmsman met some of the best locals of her generation while still a maiden, losing to the likes of graded stakes winner Bending Strings, Heavenly Humor, Wildwood Flower, and Swingin' Notes.

Every horse in Thursday's race has held the lead early in at least one race. carries credentials similar to Sexy Helmsman, and Capitola has run well by sitting back just a bit. Capitola, though, seems headed in the wrong direction, having finished eighth for a $40,000 tag at Hollywood in her last start.

* Apprentice jockey Adan Landeros picked up his first career victory with only his second mount Monday, winning an $8,000 maiden claimer with 26-1 Cilantro. Because he was a replacement jockey, Landeros had to ride at full weight and did not get the 10-pound concession a new apprentice is usually entitled to, just as he did with his first ride, a third-place finish aboard Bagdad Gambler on Saturday.