10/25/2006 11:00PM

Sprint no cakewalk for Victorina


PHOENIX - Victorina has won at Santa Rosa, Golden Gate, Hawthorne, and Calder, and nearly won at Bay Meadows and Churchill Downs. So surely the new surroundings of Turf Paradise won't be a significant hurdle as she leads Saturday's $40,000 Ahwatukee Express. The six-furlong event for 3-year-old fillies lured a field of 10.

Victorina certainly figures to be favored for owner Harry Aleo and trainer Greg Gilchrist. A 3-year-old daughter of Delaware Township, Victorina was a close third in the Grade 3 Dogwood at Churchill Downs on June 3 and then came right back to smartly win the Grade 3 Azalea Breeders' Cup Stakes at Calder on July 15. She was freshened for a couple of months and returned in the Noe Valley at Golden Gate on Sept. 16, chasing the pace and staying on well to be second - 14 lengths clear of third - behind graded stakes competitor Secret Scheme. Not only was that race off a layoff, but it also came at 1 1/16 miles. Victorina cuts back to a sprint here, and she's a powerful 6-4-2-0 at this trip. Glenn Corbett rides.

This hardly figures to be a walk in the park, however. Holy Fashion, owned by the Ramsey Family Living Trust and trained by Bart Hone, comes here sharp off three straight big outings at Ruidoso and Albuquerque. She won the La Paz here 11 months ago; in fact, two of her four wins have come at Turf Paradise. Scott Stevens rides.

Bertera figures to be dangerous as well. She won her first three starts, all on dirt, and the first two were sprinting on this track. She comes off a strong third, beaten just a half-length, in a turf sprint for $50,000 claimers at Oak Tree at Santa Anita on Oct. 9. Her trainer, Dan McFarlane, is a sensational 6 for 16 (38 percent) so far this meet. Mick Ruis rides.

Boy Toy has rattled off two straight big wins for McFarlane as well, including her last over his track Oct. 10. Lockitup was no factor as the favorite in the Oct. 9 turf sprint at Santa Anita, finishing behind Bertera, but she moves back to her preferred surface here. And Shimmering Sunset looked good blasting optional claimers here Oct. 13 in her first start in three months and her first over this track. She is trained by Justin Evans, who is 8 for 24 (33 percent) this meet.