Updated on 09/16/2011 7:41AM

Pair out to prove poor races a fluke


ALBANY, Calif. - Despite the presence of the two highweights, Above Perfection and Hall of Gold, Monday's $55,000-added Orinda Handicap at Golden Gate Fields has drawn a field of nine.

Above Perfection, who carries 123 pounds, and Hall of Gold, listed at 120 pounds, bring unimpeachable credentials into the race.

Perhaps the reason trainer Darrell Vienna is running Above Perfection in the race is the reason so many others are willing to challenge him.

"It looks too good [to pass]," said Vienna, whose filly is also eligible for $16,500 in Cal-bred bonuses.

"There's not a lot of races for her. We're looking to run three-quarters and not run seven-eighths like most of the races [at Santa Anita]."

Above Perfection won her first three starts before venturing east to Belmont last July 4 for the Grade 1 Princess. She led by a head at the first call, and battled all the way before losing by a neck to Xtra Heat. She rebounded to win the $100,000 Fleet Treat at seven furlongs at Del Mar on July 22, hanging on by a head.

She was then off until the Grade 1 La Brea at Santa Anita on Dec. 29. She was favored and led through six furlongs before fading to fifth in the seven-furlong race.

"I was kind of disappointed," Vienna said. "Either she didn't like seven-eighths or the ground was deep inside. It was a changing racetrack that day."

Jeff Bonde, who trains Hall of Gold, was even more disappointed by her 11th-place finish in the La Brea. Breaking from the rail, she seemed to be in good position, sitting fourth two lengths behind Above Perfection after the opening half-mile, but she quickly faded after that.

Hall of Gold had won three straight sprints since being eased in the California Oaks over a Golden Gate Fields turf course that resembled a bog last Feb. 19. She won the Emeryville on April 1, then won the C.H. Russell at Bay Meadows on Oct. 20 after undergoing arthroscopic surgery for a bone chip in her knee. She then won the Camilla Urso on Nov. 17 at Golden Gate Fields before the La Brea.

If there's one positive for Bonde, it's that Hall of Gold came out of the La Brea in good shape.

Bonde is not happy that she is assigned more weight than the 7-year-old mare Phaenna, who just won the $100,000 Survive Stakes at Santa Anita. He suspects, though, that the two highweights are the ones to beat.

"I'm running a horse I think is a quality horse and who has run well over the track," Bonde said.

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