12/13/2002 12:00AM

No tag on Aunt Sophie in rich claimer


ALBANY, Calif. - The highest-priced claiming race of the year headlines Sunday's Golden Gate Fields card when six fillies and mares run in a $100,000 optional claimer at one mile.

Aunt Sophie, one of two in the field not running for a tag, will be looking for her first victory since she won a $50,000 optional claimer on the turf at Bay Meadows on Sept. 19 in her first race for trainer Jeff Bonde.

Owned, bred, and trained in Washington by Charles J. Barth, Aunt Sophie was sent south to run for Bonde after the Emerald Downs meeting.

Bonde tried the 4-year-old filly on the turf in her first northern California start. In her second start in the region, she narrowly missed catching De Goddaughter in the Autumn Leaves Handicap at Bay Meadows.

She has run fourth in the Golden Poppy and the Star Ball Handicap since then and should appreciate the weaker competition she will face Sunday.

Planoncometbebopin, from the Chuck Jenda barn, won a stakes last year at Pleasanton and is the only other entrant not running for a tag. She makes her first start since finishing fifth in the Moment to Buy Handicap here on Dec. 1, 2001.

Aunt Sophie's stablemate Demo Memo was fourth and fifth in her two races following a layoff. My First Lady has already won here this meeting on a yielding turf course.

Monrow, virtually unbeatable on the turf at Bay Meadows, will try to transfer her form to what should be a sloppy main track at Golden Gate Fields. Full Scream Ahead rounds out the field.

Tough test

This is the weekend when Golden Gate Fields's new track superintendent, Juan Meza, will really start to earn his money. Heavy rains are forecast to continue through early next week give Meza his first serious problem with a Golden Gate track that created major problems for horsemen last year.

Unexpectedly heavy and early rains last year made track conditions treacherous in the morning, when workouts had to be abruptly canceled several times, and in the afternoon.

Meza is prepared for problems this year. He added plenty of sand before the meeting started to keep the track tighter when wet weather hit.

* Miguel Perez was taken off his mounts Friday when he injured his leg after his mount, Cozy Cougar, banged into the side of the gate before to the third race. Ryan Morris rode Cozy Cougar.