07/19/2012 1:46PM

Sacramento: Advance Ticket brings consistency to California Filly and Mare Sprint Handicap

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Trainer Dennis Patterson has looked forward to Saturday’s $75,000 California State Fair Sprint Handicap in Sacramento for some time.

It’s Northern California’s first sprint stakes of 2012 for older fillies and mares, and Patterson believes the six-furlong race is a great spot for the 6-year-old mare Advance Ticket.

And why not? In 22 straight sprints since finishing fourth on Oct. 2, 2009, Advance Ticket has not finished worse than third, including a third in her stakes debut in the Irish O’Brien at Santa Anita this spring.

“She’s as good as she’s ever been,” said Patterson. “The timing’s good, and she’s doing good.”

Advance Ticket drew the outside post 10 in a contentious field that includes only one stakes winner at a major track, Special Holiday, who ran fifth in this race last year.

Advance Ticket hasn’t raced since winning an optional-claiming sprint on the Golden Gate Tapeta on May  25. The Sprint Handicap is run on dirt, a surface over which Advance Ticket is winless, although she has 3 seconds and 2 thirds in 5 starts over dirt.

One of Advance Ticket’s longstanding rivals, English Royal, will be a threat as will English Royal’s stablemate Distinctive Yolie, who just finished second in the California Wines Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Pleasanton.

“Honestly, both are doing good, and there’s not a lot of places for them to run,” said trainer Billy Morey, who will have Russell Baze ride English Royal and Frank Alvarado aboard Distinctive Yolie.

English Royal, claimed for $32,000 by Morey on March 2, comes off a victory and has won 6 of 10 tries at the distance.

Jerry Hollendorfer has entered three runners: Indian Gracey, who was third in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes as a 2-year-old; Hennessy River, a 3-year-old; and Dove Forest, third to English Royal in her last start. Saturday’s race marks the second start of the year for both Indian Gracey and Dove Forest.

Jeff Bonde will saddle undefeated Greatest Escape, a 4-year-old who has won her only two starts, a maiden race at Golden Gate and an allowance at Pleasanton.

“I just got her this year, but she’s been very competitive,” Bonde said. “She apparently had some trouble with the gate in the past, but we’ve gotten her some confidence, and it hasn’t been a problem.”

Trapper’s Bounty, whose $250,246 in earnings leads the field, will also run.