04/17/2009 12:00AM

Santa Teresita gets another dirt tryout


STICKNEY, Ill. - An 800-pound gorilla arrived at Hawthorne about 9 p.m. Tuesday: Her name is Santa Teresita. A Grade 1 winner two starts ago at Santa Anita, and second to the excellent Life Is Sweet in another Grade 1 there March 14, Santa Teresita will go postward at odds of something less than even money in the Grade 3, $200,000 Sixty Sails Handicap here Saturday.

But before emptying those wallets, people, a bit of skepticism. Santa Teresita has made just one start on dirt, finishing a distant seventh last summer in the Delaware Handicap. Her connections hope to make a return trip to that race, and with Zenyatta a possible starter in the Milady Handicap next month at Hollywood, a natural home-base spot for Santa Teresita, the decision was to give her another dirt-track test run here in the 1 1/8-mile Sixty Sails.

Trainer Eric Guillot said it was not dirt alone that brought down Santa Teresita in the Del Cap. According to Guillot, Santa Teresita bled in a fast work 10 days before that race, didn't acclimate well to the Delaware weather, and got a rotten trip from the rail. But all that said, Guillot himself is in no way certain that Santa Teresita will transfer her fine synthetic-track form here.

"Either she's going to hate the heavy, sandy going and she'll run up the track, or they ain't going to beat her," said Guillot. "I don't think there's going to be any in-between."

Another thing: Santa Teresita drew post 1 in a six-horse field, and does not like being stuck down inside, Guillot said. Guillot hopes that Joe Talamo, who makes his first Chicago appearance, can guide Santa Teresita off the fence and into a clear trip. If he does, and Santa Teresita runs something close to her typical all-weather-surface race, she'll win.

If not, the Sixty Sails could land on a longshot, since likely second-choice Swift Temper also has soft spots. Swift Temper finished second to sharp One Caroline last out in the Sabin Stakes at Gulfstream, but that was a one-turn mile, and the Sixty Sails's nine furlongs looks farther than Swift Temper's best.

Apple Martini, Giant Oak's 4-year-old full sister, can get the trip, but will need pace help up front. Quick Notice crushed entry-level sprint allowance foes March 15 in her first start for Wayne Catalano. And Mizzcan'tbewrong appears to have a chance, with good Fair Grounds form and a bullet local work for her graded stakes debut.

:: (DRF Plus)