01/09/2008 1:00AM

Specht filly tries softer, supposedly


ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Steve Specht made the right decision a month ago with Lady Railrider, and he hopes he has done the same this week.

Lady Railrider was nominated to Saturday's $50,000 Tiburon Stakes at six furlongs, but Specht will run her Friday in a one-mile allowance race instead. In December, he passed the $75,000 Corte Madera Stakes at a mile with her, and she ran second in a six-furlong allowance race instead.

This decision was easier for Specht because of the distance.

"I think she's better going a mile," he said.

Friday's race might actually be tougher than Saturday's stakes. Also entered in the field of six

3-year-old fillies is Christmas Ship, a half-sister to graded-stakes winner Trickey Trevor who ran second in the Dec. 8 Corte Madera in her stakes debut. The favorite in the race may be Distorted Passion, who has finished no worse than third in her three starts, all in Southern California, and will make her debut around two turns.

Regular rider Aaron Gryder accompanies the Jeff Mullins-trained Distorted Passion north.

Specht isn't thrilled about sending Lady Railrider against Distorted Passion.

"Maybe the van will break down on the way here," he joked. "But this will be her first try around two turns, and she has to come to our home track."

Christmas Ship was also nominated to the Tiburon, but trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said he didn't want to cut her back from the one-mile Corte Madera to six furlongs.

Lady Railrider and Christmas Ship may run next in the $100,000 California Oaks on Feb. 2.

Starstream, winner of a $40,000 starter allowance on Nov. 30 in her last start, and Miss Riviera, who scored a six-furlong maiden victory in her last start on Nov. 28, are also entered, as is Lady Railrider's stablemate Papa'ssarahlin.

Also on Friday's card, Comedy Girl, coming off a 6 1/2-length win on the Tapeta surface on Dec. 13 after a seven-week layoff, steps up from a $32,000 optional claimer to a $50,000 optional claimer at a mile.

Soft Lite, who won a Dec. 9 six-furlong race in similar company, and Gula Gold, who won a Dec. 2 turf route against better at Hollywood Park, also come into the race seeking repeats. Honnete makes her first start on dirt.