02/28/2002 12:00AM

Shoemaker has mare mended and winning

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ALBANY, Calif. - Northern California's first main-track route stakes for older fillies and mares since last July, Saturday's $55,000-added Sacramento Handicap at Golden Gate Fields wound up with a full field of 12.

Highweights in the field at 117 pounds are stakes-winning Lindsay Jean and De Goddaughter, who won her last race. The vastly improved Miss Terasita and stakes-winning Constantly Classy are the lightweights at 112.

The spread of weights indicates how competitive this one-mile race figures to be, although trainer Len Shoemaker said he hoped Miss Terasita would get in at a much lower figure.

"I thought I'd get in at 106," he said.

Miss Terasita, whom Shoemaker purchased privately from one of his clients, John Deeter, has only three wins in 22 starts and has earned only $67,440, the lowest amount in the field. But she is sharp, coming off a Jan. 9 victory in a $12,500 claimer and a Jan. 30 allowance race.

Miss Terasita always had "a ton of talent," according to Shoemaker, but became a bit of a problem child. Last spring she got very sick after running in an April 16 allowance race and did not return to racing until Oct. 5.

"For 30 days, she did not get out of her stall," Shoemaker said. "I didn't think she was going to make it. We had to tap her lungs a couple times and spent $1,800 on medication in a month."

Miss Terasita came back in an allowance sprint. She finished fifth, beaten seven lengths. She was eased in her next start, on the turf, Nov. 4.

Deeter had seen enough. He was ready to get rid of the 5-year-old mare and made plans to put her in a January sale for broodmare prospects.

"She came back and was so disappointing," Shoemaker said. "I said John should take a chance at $12,500."

When Deeter opted against the plan, Shoemaker asked if he could buy the mare himself, and Deeter agreed.

After a disappointing sixth as the favorite in a $12,500 race on Nov. 30, Miss Terasita was given five weeks off. Shoemaker increased her medication and began giving her Gastrogard, used for treatment of gastric ulcers, to help her nervous stomach. He also eased back on her training somewhat.

He re-entered her in a $12,500 claimer on Jan. 9, and she won. She came back in an allowance heat and won with an improved speed figure.

Deeter "called and congratulated me after the race," said an appreciative Shoemaker, who still trains for Deeter.

"Right now, she's doing super," Shoemaker said. "She's happier and more confident. She's a great big solid mare. I always liked her so much."

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