06/23/2003 11:00PM

Sharp Miss has works of a winner

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PLEASANTON, Calif. - The aptly named Sharp Miss appears the one to beat in Thursday's feature at the Alameda County Fair.

A Canadian-bred 3-year-old filly, Sharp Miss moved up through the claiming ranks at Golden Gate Fields and Bay Meadows earlier this year and was favored in the Emeryville Stakes at Bay Meadows in her last start. Although she faded to sixth behind the talented Christmas Time, she should be tough to beat in Thursday's $40,000 optional claimer at six furlongs.

She is the lone member of the field of seven 3-year-old fillies running for a claiming price.

Since her race in the Emeryville, she has had three workouts for her trainer, Chuck Peery. The last two indicate she should bounce back from that defeat. On June 13, she worked six furlongs in 1:11.60 at Golden Gate Fields to earn a bullet. She came back one week later with a 58-second-flat best-of-29 five-furlong drill.

Thursday's race sets up nicely for her, with La Bella Reina the likely pacesetter. Midnight Rhapsody, a recent maiden winner, and Hippogator have enough speed to keep La Bella Reina honest, while Sharp Miss sits in the proverbial garden spot.

While Sharp Miss looks best, she should have plenty of competition.

Trish's Cajun has won two of her past three starts with the lone defeat coming from Sharp Miss.

La Bella Reina beat slightly easier by 5 1/2 lengths in her last start as an odds-on favorite.

Northern California's leading trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, enters two fillies, Top Cappelletti and Hippogator. Both won their 2-year-old debuts impressively last summer, then were off until March.

Hippogator was highly regarded and was favored when she finished third against Sharp Miss and Trish's Cajun in her comeback. She was an odds-on choice, pressed the pace, but came up empty in the lane behind Trish's Cajun in her second start of the year. A $160,000 yearling purchase, she has a pair of solid half-mile works since and is eligible to improve in her third start back.

Russell Baze, the nation's leading rider, takes off Hippogator, however, for the first time in her career to ride Sharp Miss. Ron Warren Jr., who rode Sharp Miss the day she beat Hippogator, takes the call on Hippogator.

Top Cappelletti showed only brief speed before finishing last in her comeback, but she has worked nicely since and did win a very contentious race in her debut.

Midnight Rhapsody has run second and first since coming north, while Sulzano, making her third U.S. start, has been working well at Santa Anita and ships north for a switch to dirt.

- Fans at Thursday's races will receive Seabiscuit T-shirts.