01/01/2003 1:00AM

Recency the main issue in Survive


ARCADIA, Calif. - The lack of a recent start by Above Perfection and Kitty on the Track leaves bettors with an intriguing puzzle in Friday's $100,000 Survive Stakes at Santa Anita.

Both mares are capable of winning the 5 1/2-furlong sprint, which is restricted to California-bred fillies and mares who have not won a first-place purse of $50,000 twice since March 1, but they do not have the benefit of a recent race.

Above Perfection has not raced since winning the Irish O'Brien Stakes here in March, her most recent race in a three-race stakes winning streak. She was sidelined with an injury for the rest of 2002. In November, she was bought for $610,000 by Classic Star Stable at the dispersal of David Milch's holdings.

Since the sale, Above Perfection has been transferred from trainer Darrell Vienna to Mike Smith, who is using Friday's race as a prep for the $200,000 Santa Monica Handicap over seven furlongs on Jan. 25.

"She's coming off a layoff, but she's doing super," Smith said. "I didn't want to go seven furlongs first time out. This sets up well for down the road."

Kitty on the Track is more difficult to assess. A 6-year-old, she has been plagued by injuries throughout her career and has made only six starts since her debut in September 1999.

A winner of three races, Kitty on the Track won the California Breeders' Champion Stakes in December 1999, but then was out for 18 months. She returned and finished second in two stakes in the summer of 2001 - the A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park and the Fantastic Girl Stakes at Del Mar - before being sidelined again.

When she resumed training this fall, she was transferred from trainer Bill Spawr to Clifford Sise.

Since Kitty on the Track joined his barn, Sise has been impressed with her training. In the last two weeks of December, she twice recorded bullet works at Santa Anita, including a six-furlong work in 1:10.60.

"She'll fire," Sise promised. "She'll run well. She worked 10 and change as easy as any horse could."

Both mares have enough speed to lead throughout. They face five others, including the entry of Theresa's Year and Jenna's Joy. Theresa's Year won an allowance race on California Gold Rush Day at Hollywood Park last September, but has not started since finishing fifth in the Fleet Treat Stakes at Del Mar last July.

Of the closers, Party Pirate has the best chance for an upset. She finished second in the California Cup Distaff on turf in November.

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