04/04/2007 12:00AM

Snowdrop returns for a tag


SAN MATEO, Calif. - After four months on the sidelines, Snowdrop returns to the races in Friday's feature at Bay Meadows.

The 4-year-old Snowdrop, who has five rivals in a $40,000 claimer at six furlongs, earned $83,130 last year while recording 2 wins, 2 seconds and 2 thirds in 10 starts. One of those wins came at a mile on the turf. She was also stakes-placed, losing by a nose after outrunning the rocket ship Candy Jo early in the Sweepida Handicap at Stockton.

"She was tired and needed a little time," trainer Gil Matos said of the reason for the layoff. "I think she's better going long, and I like the way she runs on turf, but I think this is the right spot for her comeback even though it's a tough spot. I'd rather have her start in a sprint."

Snowdrop didn't do badly sprinting last year. She ran second at Golden Gate Fields in her debut and won her second start here. After running third in an optional claimer, she just missed in the Sweepida, which was the best race of her career.

Matos has geared much of her preparation to developing stamina, but she also has worked fast enough that she should be able to handle the fast pace of a sprint.

Although she's running for a tag for the first time, Snowdrop may not be favored here.

Kelly Carson, who won her only start at Bay Meadows last December, seems quicker than Snowdrop. Kelly Carson returned from seven weeks on the sidelines to win a $50,000 claimer at Santa Anita in her last start.

Kelly Carson, who drew the rail, has an apparent pace advantage that should pay off. The most recent of her six victories came when she stalked the pace.

Stakes-placed Sweet Ambition, who missed third by a head in last fall's William Kyne Breeders' Cup Handicap here, returns from nine weeks on the sidelines with a series of decent works and a style that indicates she will make her presence felt late.

Trainer Cliff DeLima, preparing for an invasion of Prairie Meadows, sends out Unusual Beat, who is making his first start in nearly 11 months, and Storminbayoubabe, who has run only once since January 2006. Laguna Beach, stepping up off a second-place finish in a $25,000 claimer, rounds out the field.