07/15/2003 12:00AM

Pheiffer flashes unexpected speed


It was no surprise when Lacie Girl won the $50,800 Vacaville Handicap at the Solano County Fair in Vallejo last Saturday.

But few expected the performance given by runner-up Pheiffer, a 5-year-old mare racing for the first time since finishing third in last summer's Luther Burbank Handicap at Santa Rosa.

Pheiffer ran second, but, even more surprisingly, she made the lead over Jetinto Houston, running fractions of 21.87 and 43.90 seconds. She had never shown such speed before and, despite being pressured on the lead early by Hadl, finished stronger than even her trainer, Donna Elordi, could have hoped.

"She ran awesome," Elordi said. "I think she can be better now after her first race."

Elordi's only cause for concern came before the race when Broke in Blairsden flipped in the gate two stalls away from Pheiffer.

"I was holding my breath wondering if anything had happened," she said.

Don't look for Pheiffer at Santa Rosa, even though she came out of the Vacaville fine. Elordi is unlikely to bring her back too quickly after such a strong performance.

On the other hand, Elordi remembers, "Last year, when we had her good, I ran her more than I expected because I couldn't keep her in her stall."

Pheiffer suffered a minor injury - "nothing career-threatening," said Elordi - after last year's race at Santa Rosa and was sent to the Idaho farm of her owners, Billy and Gloria Hipwell. The Hipwells gave her plenty of time, and Elordi said that Mike Lewis, ranch foreman for the Hipwells, had her fit and ready when she returned to California.

"She gets a little bigger and stronger each time she comes down to me," Elordi said. "There's no quit in her. She's just a very, very nice mare."

Handle up at Solano

Through the first week of racing at the Solano County Fair, handle has increased 14 percent over last year - and that's even before advance deposit wagering totals have been calculated.

While attendance figures are significantly down at Solano, dipping 25 percent according to California Authority of Racing Fairs numbers, the ontrack handle has actually risen 3 percent.

Ferndale appoints racing secretary

Ella "Dee Dee" Robinson has been named racing secretary for the Humboldt County Fair (Ferndale), which will run Aug. 7-17.

Robinson has been involved in horse racing since 1979 and has worked in northern California since 1990, working in the racing office and serving as a racing official. She has served as the emerging breeds racing secretary at the Bay Meadows Fair for the past seven years.

Familiar faces

The names atop the jockey and trainer standings for the first week at Solano are pretty familiar: Russell Baze and Jerry Hollendorfer.

Baze leads all riders with 12 wins in 26 mounts. Hollendorfer, who started slowly at Pleasanton and wound up with four wins there, has six winners.

* Seabiscuit bobblehead dolls will be given away Saturday at the Solano County Fair with posters from the movie being given away at northern California satellite facilities.

* Ticket prices for Tuesday's northern California advance screening of the movie "Seabiscuit," to benefit the Winners Foundation and Race for Education, have been reduced to $100. For information, call (510) 559-7300.