11/27/2001 12:00AM

Pick of the Valley is the pick

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - You thought the turf festival was over? Think again.

Two competitive turf races highlight the Thursday card at Hollywood Park, and trainer Barry Abrams voiced the main concern of many participants involved.

"We don't know how the turf course is going to be," he said.

Hollywood Park took considerable rain Saturday, and by late Sunday, the heavily-used course - on which six races were run during or after rain - was labeled "yielding."

Abrams hopes conditions have dried by Thursday when he starts Pick of the Valley in race 5, a mile turf race for 2-year-olds running for a $62,500 tag.

"It's a claiming race, there shouldn't be any world-beaters in there," Abrams said. He's right. Pick of the Valley's last two wins under Kent Desormeaux suggest he is the most likely winner against stakes-placed Bid N Ask; late-runner Lusty Latin, fifth in the California Cup; and late-running sprinter Gobi Dan. The turf race for 2-year-olds will provide clues to how the second turf race might play out.

In race 7, nine California-bred fillies and mares who are nonwinners-one-other-than will race 1 1/16 miles on grass. Flying With Mimi, last seen here winning a maiden-claiming sprint at Fairplex Park, returns from Bay Meadows having won two of her last three starts. She faces: Apollo's Music, who finally won a maiden race last time in her 14th start; Proud Tammie, 2-for-18 and winless around two turns; and longshot Stefandrew, whose effort one start back compares well to her rivals Thursday.

With 11 entrants, race 5 is the most enticing gambling proposition on the card. It centers around Pick of the Valley, who was scratched less than a half-hour before post for the first race on Nov. 14. According to Abrams, Pick of the Valley was on his way to the saddling ring when he got excited, hit his nose on the railing, and began to bleed. "It was just a nosebleed - it wasn't a big deal - but it kept bleeding," Abrams said.

Cautionary discretion prevailed, and Pick of the Valley scratched.

The colt has won 2 of 3 since Abrams claimed him for $40,000 at Del Mar, and his established form around two turns makes him formidable Thursday.

Pick of the Valley also is one of only two starters who have won a race around two turns, and the other - Vowel Play - won a slow race at Santa Anita that raises the question of whether he truly wants to run long.

Flying With Mimi should win race 7. Her willingness to relax, pressing a slow pace, suggests she could fall into a good trip.

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