09/21/2006 11:00PM

Shaggy Mane rolling along since claim

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ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Lloyd Mason freely admits that luck plays a role in horse racing.

So do timing, talent, and a good eye.

All those factors came together for Mason and his client Jim Kwong in the form of a 3-year-old filly named Shaggy Mane, who will be looking for her fourth straight victory in Sunday's Golden Gate Fields feature, a $50,000 optional claimer at six furlongs.

They claimed her for $12,500 from an eight-length victory at Santa Rosa, then watched as she dispatched a first-level allowance field by a similar margin on the opening weekend here. She has gone wire to wire in all three of her northern California starts, winning by a combined 22 lengths.

Shaggy Mane will try the same tactics against five rivals Sunday, and she has a seemingly strong pace advantage on a track that has been heavily favoring speed.

Shaggy Mane's first start in northern California came in a bottom-level $8,000 maiden claimer after two disappointing tries down south.

"We tried to claim her at Pleasanton," said Mason, whose claim was disallowed on a technicality.

Mason filed another claim when Shaggy Mane won at Santa Rosa.

"Mainly, we thought her breeding was interesting, and the claiming price was cheap enough," he said.

Shaggy Mane has classic California breeding, by Bertrando out of the Bel Bolide mare Witchy, who earned $170,277 in a 17-race career that included six wins, five seconds, and a third. Shaggy Mane is a full sister to stakes-placed Resident Alien, who has earned $161,850.

Shaggy Mane's first start for Mason was a step up to allowance company.

"It's kind of hard to improve on them if you claim off Brian Koriner, but this one was kind of a mystery," said Mason.

Shaggy Mane has improved her Beyer in each of her five starts.

"If she runs well in this race," he said, "there's a $100,000 stakes at Bay Meadows, we might look at" - the William P. Kyne Breeders' Cup Express on Oct. 21.

Shaggy Mane, who defeated next-out winner Highly Quick in her last start, meets a Grade 1 winner in Argentine-bred comebacker Postergada. The sharp Kiss Kiss Kiss, who has won three times here, is also entered, as is Queenmab'sdaughter, recent winner Missile Tone, and Apollonesian.