01/31/2008 12:00AM

Sky Mystic will tell tale in paddock

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ALBANY, Calif. - Sky Mystic has pretty much lived up to the potential trainer Greg Gilchrist saw when he paid $400,000 for her last February.

Pretty much.

After running third in her debut, sprinting against the undefeated stakes-winning stablemate High Resolve, she graduated when stretched out and put on the turf in her second start. She was even more impressive in winning an allowance race here in her third start, on Nov. 21.

But in her last start, the Dec. 8 Corte Madera, she regressed, running fourth as the even-money favorite.

She has a chance to make amends Saturday when she runs in the $100,000 California Oaks at Golden Gate. Eight 3-year-old fillies entered the 1 1/16-mile event, although Onebadkitty is expected to be scratched after coming out of her final work with a minor problem.

Gilchrist said he did not believe that Sky Mystic had enough time off before the Corte Madera.

"I don't think any the less of her than I did before her last race, but if this becomes a common occurrence, it will cost her a lot," Gilchrist said.

"She needs time between races. I don't think you want to run her back after 2 1/2 or three weeks. We talked it over a lot whether to run her."

In retrospect, the decision may have been a mistake, but with the Oaks the goal even then, it seemed to make sense to get one more race.

"She'll tip you off early Saturday," Gilchrist said. "If she's excitable and wound up in the paddock, it won't be a good sign. She would not relax last time, and she wound up way too close early.

"This time we've had a couple months since her last start, and we've done a lot more schooling lately. She's doing everything fine, but it's pretty much up to her."

One of Sky Mystic's main opponents Saturday, Lady Railrider, has shown steady improvement for trainer Steve Specht.

Sent to Specht from Idaho to run in the Wine Country Juvenile at Santa Rosa last summer, she simply wasn't up to the task. Six weeks later, she ran third to Indyanne and has not been worse than second since. One of those seconds, however, came when she was the even-money favorite and lost by 6 1/2 lengths to Sky Mystic here Nov. 21.

"I don't think distance will be a problem," Specht said. "She's pretty versatile. She can sprint or go long, but I do think she's better going long."

Christmas Ship, second in the Corte Madera and third to Lady Railrider after hopping in the air at the start in her last race Jan. 11, also figures to be a factor.