04/16/2002 12:00AM

Snowflake goes in turf mile


ARCADIA, Calif. - European import Snowflake arrived in the United States with a glowing reputation and all her conditions.

The filly had raced 11 times in Ireland and England, but was still a maiden late last year when she reached the barn of trainer Ron McAnally. "Just like Bonapartiste; he was a maiden when he got here," McAnally said.

Bonapartiste was 0 for 14 when he went on a tear for McAnally, winning six of his next 11, including the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap in 1998. Snowflake won her first two U.S. starts and on Thursday at Santa Anita she makes her third start in this country in race 3, a mile turf race for fillies and mares, nonwinners twice other than.

Five entered the $60,000 allowance, including Angel Gift, Starship Saratoga, Rhiana, and Honestly Darling. Snowflake is the one to beat, despite the distance.

"She probably wants to go longer, but she won at six and a half here," McAnally said.

That maiden sprint Feb. 10 was Snowflake's U.S. debut and first start since purchased by Stonerside Stables. Though the competition has steepened, Snowflake had already proven her class, finishing second in a Group 1 in England, beaten only 1 1/2 lengths by Lailani, subsequent winner of the Grade 1 Flower Bowl at Belmont.

That second-place finish to Lailani "was the main reason we bought her, that was the selling point," McAnally said.

So far, Snowflake has performed to expectations. She blitzed maidens in a downhill sprint, then stretched to two turns March 10 and won a first-level allowance route by a neck. That race was validated when runner-up Kabylia returned to win March 31.

A 4-year-old by Caerleon, Snowflake will be ridden Thursday by Chris McCarron, who rode her in her other U.S. starts. Her main rival is Angel Gift, who missed by a nose in a similar spot Feb. 27.

Angel Gift will be ridden by Eddie Delahoussaye.

Laffit Pincay Jr. rides likely pacesetter Starship Saratoga. A front-runner, Starship Saratoga returns to the turf after being cooked chasing a brutal pace March 10 in a dirt route.

Rhiana is seeking to regain the form that saw her win twice at Santa Anita last winter.

Honestly Darling worked six furlongs Tuesday for Bobby Frankel.

For the second time in six racing days, the first two races are two-furlong races for 2-year-olds. Well-regarded first-time starter My Kai faces last-start runner-up Feed for Speed in race 1, for fillies. The second half of the double is a wide-open contest with several fast-working firsters, including Westcoastwildcat and Shark Fin Soup.

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