03/07/2009 1:00AM

Saucey Evening back on turf


ARCADIA, Calif. - A class drop from Grade 1 stakes is one reason to like Saucey Evening in the $70,000 China Doll on Sunday at Santa Anita.

But jockey Garrett Gomez suggested that the biggest reason to back the favorite in the China Doll is surface. Even though Saucey Evening already has won two stakes on synthetic, according to Gomez she is better on turf.

"I'm excited to see her back on grass," Gomez said. "On synthetic, she starts to accelerate and doesn't hit that next gear" like on grass.

If Gomez is right, Saucey Evening might be the lock of the card in the mile stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Graham Motion trains Saucey Evening, whose recent efforts would make her the likely favorite even if she had never tried grass. But her 3-for-7 record includes a maiden win on turf and a fourth-place finish in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last October.

"If I had just a little better trip, I would have won," Gomez said. "She got stuck behind dead horses and still tried to kick on."

Saucey Evening missed by only two lengths in the Breeders' Cup and will be running on grass Sunday for the first time since.

China Doll entrant April Pride suffered one of the worst trips of the meet Feb. 4 in a first-level allowance that she lost by a half-length.

Runner-up in a minor stakes Dec.o28, April Pride was odds-on when she dropped into a first-level allowance for her next start. She was shuffled on the backstretch, steadied and shuffled back again on the far turn, swung wide, and fell short by a half-length.

David Flores has ridden April Pride in all three of her U.S. starts, and despite her recent tough trip, trainer Jim Cassidy named Flores to ride again Sunday.

"If I had to make my decision an hour after her last race, I probably wouldn't have" named Flores, Cassidy admits.

April Pride has 1 win and 5 seconds in 10 starts and probably wants longer.

"She's not quick-quick, she just keeps coming," Cassidy said. "I think a mile and an eighth or more is her thing."

Fastongrass stretches out following two sprint wins on grass; Gold Goddess finished second in the Grade 3 La Habra; Cornish Rose make her U.S. debut. Other starters include Acting Lady, Deeveetee, Point of Reference, Hooh Why, and Century Park.