11/09/2006 12:00AM

A pair of success stories

Email

SAN MATEO, Calif. - The world of horse racing is one of the few places where a person can go shopping in the bargain basement and still come up with a treasure.

A pair of bargain-basement purchases, Secret Scheme and Bai and Bai, have their chance to shine in Saturday's $55,000 Palo Alto Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf.

Secret Scheme, coming off an impressive wire-to-wire victory in the Noe Valley at Golden Gate Fields, was a $7,000 purchase as a yearling at a Kentucky dispersal. Bai and Bai, a multiple stakes winner, went for $3,200 as a yearling at the northern California sale at Pleasanton.

Secret Scheme has won 5 of 8 starts, including her lone race over the turf here. Her only two off-the-board efforts came on turf when she lost a three-way photo for second in the Grade 2 San Clemente at Del Mar and ran a dull race in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks.

Bai and Bai, racing for the first time since running second in the $200,000 Melair on Gold Rush Day at Hollywood Park on April 30, will make her turf debut. She won the Telegraph Hill at Golden Gate this past spring when it was shifted from turf to dirt, and was scratched from a turf race at Bay Meadows when she suffered a minor injury that kept her sidelined for six months.

Secret Scheme has earned 100-plus Beyer Speed Figures in her past two starts, both on the main track, and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said he believes she can be equally good on either surface.

"There was nowhere to run her here this summer," he said of the decision to ship her to Del Mar. "She's been able to compete on the turf."

Bai and Bai's trainer, Bill Delia, enjoys good success moving runners from dirt to turf, and said, "I think she'll like [turf]. We'll try her and see what happens. The only thing I'm a little concerned about is you just never know how they'll respond off a layoff, but she's been training well."

While Hollendorfer downplays talk of eventually running Secret Scheme in races such as the seven-furlong, Grade 1 La Brea for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita or the Sunshine Millions, Delia admits those could be possibilities if Bai and Bai turns in a strong effort and comes out of the race well.

Hollendorfer also has entered Lilies for Rozie, a regally bred $170,000 purchase.

The Kjell Qvale homebred Corcina could also be a factor. She has never finished worse than second in three starts and comes off a maiden win in her first try around two turns.