02/12/2004 12:00AM

Richmond has speed throughout


ALBANY, Calif. - There is no such thing as an easy sprint stakes at Golden Gate Fields, and the seven who entered Saturday's $55,000-added Richmond Handicap for fillies or mares all have their work cut out for them.

The field figures to be contentious leaving the gate and at the wire, and post position may determine the winner of this race, which has an abundance of speed.

Argentine Grade 1 winner Talk Me Again, perhaps the quickest member of the field, drew the rail. Drawing post 3 was Goldy Rock, who just scored a wire-to-wire victory in an allowance race here.

Pheiffer, the wire-to-wire winner of the C.H. Russell at Bay Meadows last fall and the early pacesetter in the Orinda Handicap here Jan. 24, drew post 5.

Brite Betty, who doesn't quite have the quickness of the other pacesetters, has enough speed to be a definite pace factor around the turn.

Trainer Doug O'Neill says the strategy with Goldy Rock is simple.

"She's extremely quick," he said. "Not many can go with her early, but one of those is Talk Me Again."

Trainer Eric Kruljac's strategy with Talk Me Again, a 6-year-old mare, was probably determined by Talk Me Again's rail draw.

"She will rate," he said, "but I think she's better going to the front."

Kruljac said Talk Me Again's recent 33.60 three-furlong bullet drill was "as slow as she can go."

"She's gotta ship well and break, but I feel better about this race than I have going into any of her previous races here," he said.

Trainer Donna Elordi says she hopes the draw outside of the two speedsters will help Pheiffer.

"Her wins before that stakes win had always been off the pace," said Elordi. "We'll see where she's at after the break, but she does not have to be on the lead."

Christmas Time and Gone to Party, both trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, should be sitting close to the pace with the opportunity to get first run. That could favor Christmas Time, who won the Emeryville at Bay Meadows last spring and finished second to Ema Bovary - just in front of Pheiffer - in the Orinda.

The quick expected pace could also be an advantage for Amber Hills, who has route stalking speed but will probably be last early.

"I'd rather route her, but there's not one route the rest of the meet," said trainer Ed Moger Jr. "There's not many opportunities to run her."

Moger is encouraged by Amber Hills's fourth-place finish in the Orinda, and is happy that she drew post 4 for Saturday.