06/20/2013 12:59PM

Pleasanton: Marks Mine appears speed of California Wine Stakes

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Marks Mine has two bullet works going into the $50,000 California Wine Stakes at Pleasanton on Saturday.

Trainer Steve Specht was impressed by Marks Mine when she began training as a 2-year-old, but apparently bettors were not. Marks Mine sped away from the field to win a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race by 3 1/2 lengths at Santa Rosa last summer in her debut, returning $44.40.

She’s continued to impress Specht in the seven starts since, and bettors have caught on, too. Marks Mine figures to be well bet Saturday in the $50,000 California Wine Stakes at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton. The six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies attracted a field of seven.

A Benchmark filly owned by Larry and Marianne Williams, Marks Mine has used her speed to win three races, including the Golden Gate Debutante in December. She showed tenacity when running third in the one-mile California Breeders’ Championship at Santa Anita in January and second in the 1 1/16-mile California Oaks at Golden Gate Fields in February.

Marks Mine has missed few dances since she began racing, and perhaps that was one reason she stopped badly in her most recent start, the $200,000 Evening Jewel Stakes on March 30 at Santa Anita. Marks Mine got caught in a speed duel in that 6 1/2-furlong sprint for California-bred 3-year-old fillies and was beaten more than 20 lengths in finishing ninth.

Specht gave her a five-week break before she returned to the track for a workout on May 4. She’s had six works in preparation for Saturday’s assignment. Marks Mine doesn’t appear to have lost any of her speed, with bullet works in her last two drills, both at Golden Gate Fields. On June 9, she worked 1:11.80 for six furlongs, the fastest of 12 drills at the distance, and on June 16 she went five furlongs from the gate in 59.80 seconds, best of 55 at the distance.

Marks Mine breaks from post 2 under Frank Alvarado on Saturday and has speed surrounding her with Tribal Gal on the rail and Special Summer in post 3. But she will likely find herself on the lead as she has in six of her eight career starts.

“She’s pretty intense,” Specht said. “She goes for it.”

Tribal Gal is the only other stakes winner in the field, having won a stakes at Turf Paradise two races back. Her four victories are the most in the field and they came at four different tracks: Turf Paradise, Del Mar, Santa Anita and Golden Gate.

Two runners are undefeated. Special Summer makes her first start since April 28. Esperanza Latina has won two straight at Golden Gate Fields this spring after being claimed from her debut at Calder last fall. Both are 3 for 3.

Let Faith Arrive, who has three wins and a third in five starts, will be sitting back waiting to pick off the speedsters. Kitty Marie, who lost by a neck to Special Summer in her last start, and Southern California import Irish Presence round out the field.