01/08/2002 1:00AM

Is one sharp work enough?


ARCADIA, Calif. - Evening Meeting is the best filly in the seventh-race feature at Santa Anita, but the gap in her workouts is no mistake. The filly, by General Meeting, came out of her romping maiden win with a bruised foot that might compromise her chances in a first-level Cal-bred allowance on Thursday.

"We lost about two weeks with her," trainer Bob Baffert said. "All we did was feed her carrots and give her mints. But she worked good the other day."

A sharp five-furlong workout Jan. 6 puts Evening Meeting on edge; the question is whether she is fit to run a mile on grass against nine others of varying degrees of ability. Her main rivals include Apollo's Music, beaten less than five lengths in a Grade 2; Broke the Slump, foiled by a slow start her last pair; and Serene in Seattle, unable to handle a wet track last time out.

Eleven runners entered the one-other-than filly and mare allowance; 10 will start. Beyond a compromised training pattern that includes just two works since her last start Nov. 24, Evening Meeting is no win machine anyway. Owned by Golden Eagle Farm, she required 11 starts before finally winning a race in which she crawled on a lonely lead.

Corey Nakatani will ride Evening Meeting again, and there are plenty of options for bettors trying to beat her. Again. Apollo's Music won a maiden race in her 14th career start, then finished a close sixth in the Dahlia, which goes to show how weak the Dahlia was. Broke the Slump had won 3 of 4 until poor beginnings in her last two starts led to fourth-place finishes. Serene in Seattle has won 3 of 7 lifetime, and her Del Mar win against 3-year-old claimers makes her a contender Thursday.

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