04/13/2005 11:00PM

Oaks is guessing game


SAN MATEO, Calif. - How the 3-year-old fillies in the race react to a new surface could determine the outcome of Saturday's $55,000-added Bay Meadows Oaks.

Eight fillies will compete in the 1 1/16-mile race on turf. It will be the first turf start for five of them. Two of the others have run on turf, but only down the hill at Santa Anita.

has the most extensive turf experience in the field. She won a one-mile maiden race at Santa Anita and came back to run third as the favorite, again at one mile. She has speed but may have to stalk here with the presence of Queenmab'sdaughter and Laguna Pointe in the field.

Queenmab'sdaughter, part of a John Martin-trained entry with Etoile Petite, just beat Laguna Pointe, who is coupled with Thrilling Victory for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

"It's the obvious step," Martin said. "It's fitting right into her pattern. We wanted to route her and run her on the turf. Last time, we got to try a route."

. But Martin urges caution.

"Laguna Pointe hesitated at the start, and we made the lead easily," he said. "I don't know what will happen if they break evenly."

Etoile Petite comes from off the pace and gives Martin a good one-two punch.

"Her only turf race was a troubled one," he said. "She broke bad and was forced wide. The rider fought her and pretty much eased her down the stretch. Both of these two are bred for distance and turf."

Laguna Pointe's stablemate Thrilling Victory, who has won 3 of 4 starts, will come from a stalking position.

is unbeaten in two starts at a mile. She won a main-track allowance race last time despite trouble at the quarter pole and being blocked in the lane.

Thrilling Victory showed gameness, but Hollendorfer isn't sure how she will take to turf.

"I don't know going on turf this time," Hollendorfer said. "She's going to have to like the turf. That's true for both, and they don't have great turf breeding on paper."

Tense Wager, the lone stakes winner in the field, ran third behind Queenmab'sdaughter and Laguna Pointe in her last start, coming from behind on a day that speed held an advantage.

"It's a good spot to try her on grass," trainer Duane Offield said. "Maybe the speed will come back to her, and her pedigree indicates she's bred for turf."