08/05/2006 12:00AM

Snowdrop tries to carry speed on turf

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SANTA ROSA, Calif. - Ten 3-year-old fillies signed up for the getaway-day feature at the Sonoma County Fair.

For some, the one-mile allowance race marks a return to a favored surface - turf. For others, it marks a chance to discover if turf is a viable option for their careers.

San Clemente Blue, Snowdrop, and Minister of Joy make their turf debuts. For San Clemente Blue and Snowdrop, who lost by a nose in the Swepida at Stockton after setting the pace, the two-turn experience will also be new.

Snowdrop comes off the first poor effort of her career, but she will be the one to catch.

"She kind of lied to me the way she acted, and I made a mistake running her back too soon," said trainer Gil Matos of Snowdrop's fifth-place finish in an allowance race 10 days after her race at Stockton.

Matos has given her five weeks, and she has worked nicely.

"I don't think the distance will bother her. I've wanted to stretch her out," Matos said. "Maybe grass the first time will be a problem, but I believe she can handle any surface."

Trainer Bill McLean is happy to return Divine Afternoon to the turf.

"She ran well on the turf last time," he said. "All she did was beat maidens on the turf. I'm hoping she's better on the turf. Some horses are.

"She's had two dull tries since against similar company on dirt, although one was against older."

Dixie Whistle will be glad to return to the turf. She has a win, a second, and a third in her three turf starts. She lost by 12 3/4 lengths in a dirt start since her last turf try.

Loyal Bounty improved from a second-place finish in an $8,000 maiden claiming sprint on dirt to a win versus $32,000 maiden claiming company on the turf in her first try following a claim. Last time out, she ran second in a starter allowance on the main track at Pleasanton.