09/22/2004 11:00PM

Oaks appears an intramural battle

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - A very competitive field of nine 3-year-old fillies square off in the Grade 3, $150,000 British Columbia Oaks at Hastings on Saturday. The only problem is that most of the competition will involve the four horses trained Dave Forster, and the entry figures to be a prohibitive price. Because of the expected dominance of the entry, there will be no show wagering on the 1 1/8-mile Oaks.

Socorro County, who will be ridden by Robert Skelly, heads the Forster entry and she would be a short price on her own merits. The B.C.-bred filly is coming off of an easy 5 1/2-length victory in the Oaks Preview, and in eight career races she's never finished worse than third. In her previous race she couldn't get past her stablemate Overact in the $100,000 Sonoma Stakes at Northlands.

According to assistant trainer Teri Forster, all four of the stable's fillies, including Overact, Gold Accent, and Summer Symphony, are coming into the race in excellent shape.

"Of the four, Socorro County appears to be really peaking right now," she said.

Gold Accent hasn't won a stakes, but she did finish a neck behind Socorro County in the Nanaimo Handicap and was also second in the Oaks Preview. She's about as consistent as they come, finishing second six times in seven career starts.

Overact was eased in the Canadian Derby Aug. 28, but she's a two-time stakes winner. She has more speed than Socorro County, and the likely moderate pace could give her an advantage over her late-running stablemate.

The Forster foursome appear to be a cut above the horses that have been running at Hastings, and Palace Rose, who is shipping in from Del Mar, appears to have the best chance of pulling off an upset.

Palace Rose, who is trained by John Snow, broke her maiden for $32,000 on the Santa Anita main track in March. She's become a much better horse since switching to turf in mid-June. She won a starter allowance race on the grass at Del Mar in her last start.

See Me Through is blinkers off, and her trainer, Cindy Krasner, is hoping the equipment change will help her relax during the early stages of the race. See Me Through tired badly after forcing a very fast pace in the Oaks Preview, but she held on well to finish second when she was allowed to set more reasonable fractions in a $50,000 optional race for older fillies and mares in her previous start.