02/29/2008 1:00AM

Northland Glory steps up for Offield

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - When trainer Duane Offield dropped a $16,000 claim on Northland Glory on Jan. 31, he was pretty sure the 5-year-old mare was worth at least $12,500. After she scored a five-length wire-to-wire victory, Offield figured he had made a good buy.

"She was pretty impressive the day I took her," Offield said.

Offield is sending out Northland Glory for the first time Sunday in a first-level allowance race at one mile. She has four rivals.

Northland Glory impressed Offield when she won for $12,500 on Dec. 9. Among her victims was the Offield-trained Iron Katy.

Northland Glory was asked to run one mile for the first time on the day Offield claimed her. Offield chose to return at one mile and moved her up to allowance company.

"I don't think these first-level allowance races are all that tough," Offield said. "If she'd struggled the day I claimed her, I would have dropped her to $12,500. But she won pretty easy, so I'm hoping she can step up. I can always drop back into a claimer if I have to."

Northland Glory has the most consistent speed in the race, but Sararah Jr., Zorra Roja, and Royal Sierra have set the pace in route races before.

All three of Northland Glory's victories have come in wire-to-wire style. Offield said he wouldn't offer any prerace instructions to Russell Baze, who has ridden Northland Glory three times, scoring two wins and a second.

"Russell knows her well, so he'll make the decision," Offield said, referring to whether Baze and the filly will go for the lead. "I don't usually give a rider many instructions except maybe that the horse may lug in or out."

Royal Sierra just scored her fifth win, winning a $20,000 claimer at a mile here by nine lengths, wire to wire. Baze rode her in that victory.

That Baze chose to ride Northland Glory over Royal Sierra pleases Offield.

"Russell wanted to ride her back and came to me," he said.

Sararah Jr. has hit the board in six straight, missing by a nose here in a $25,000 optional claimer in her last start.

Zorra Roja did nothing sprinting in her last start, and she won a starter allowance at a mile two back.