02/15/2003 1:00AM

Soft turf will alter picture


ARCADIA, Calif. - Last fall, Sentimental Value won stakes on a firm turf course at Santa Anita and a sloppy main track at Hollywood Park.

Sentimental Value has not started on a wet turf course, the sort of conditions that could be present for Monday's $150,000 Buena Vista Handicap at Santa Anita.

"I'm hoping we don't get any more rain," trainer Kristin Mulhall said. "I think she'll be better on the firm with the speed she has."

Run over a mile on turf, the race has drawn nine fillies and mares, but the list of entrants could significantly differ from the list of starters.

Sentimental Value and Final Destination, the winner of the 1000 Guineas in New Zealand in 2001, share high weight of 115 pounds. Final Destination is trained by Bobby Frankel, who has also entered Sea of Showers.

On Saturday, Frankel said he was unsure if Sea of Showers would start. A 4-year-old, Sea of Showers was group stakes-placed in France last spring and has won two allowance races since joining Frankel's stable.

"I don't know if she can handle the soft," Frankel said. "She's missed some training time anyway."

Embassy Belle, second in an allowance in her U.S. debut Jan. 29, would also pass if the turf is soft, trainer Ben Cecil said.

Final Destination could go favored. She has won her last four starts, including an allowance race at Hollywood Park on Dec. 11 in her lone start for Frankel. She led throughout that race, but Frankel insists that is not her solitary style.

"She definitely doesn't need the lead," Frankel said. "It was a slow pace that day."

Final Destination is likely to be in midpack, chasing Walts Wharf and Repository. Walts Wharf has raced in California and the East Coast in the last year, often trying to lead throughout. Repository set the pace in the Grade 3 Monrovia Handicap on the hillside turf course Dec. 31, but faded in the final furlong to finish last of 12.

Sentimental Value can race near the lead. David Flores has the mount on Sentimental Value, replacing Victor Espinoza, who will ride Final Destination.

Sentimental Value finished third of four fillies as a heavy favorite in an allowance on dirt at Hollywood Park on Dec. 18. Mulhall said she couldn't handle the surface and decided to give the filly a break.

"It will be a tough race coming off a long layoff," Mulhall said.

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