08/21/2007 11:00PM

Stakes talents get in prep

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - One of the goals of the Bay Meadows racing secretary, Tom Doutrich, is to provide races for better horses on the grounds so they can have a prep before they run in stakes races. Friday's feature is just the kind of race Doutrich had in mind.

Five fillies and mares will race 5 1/2 furlongs in an $80,000 optional claimer that includes four stakes winners and a stakes-placed horse. The race is a prep for the Oct. 13 Luck Be a Lady Handicap at six furlongs.

The likely favorite is Victorina, who won the Vacaville at Solano on July 14 and is a graded stakes winner. She defeated the stakes winner Vaca City Flyer and Denaesalildevil, who both return Friday. Rounding out the field are Snowdrop, winner of the Alameda County Fillies and Mares Handicap two races back on July 4 at Pleasanton, and Argentinisima, a stakes winner in her native Argentina.

The race won't be an easy one for Victorina, who drew the rail. She doesn't have the speed of Denaesalildevil or Argen-

tinisima, who should battle for the lead.

Vaca City Flyer could have an advantage over Victorina on Friday because she has an outside draw and more speed, which allows her to sit wherever she wants.

"I know Victorina's awfully tough," said Steve Sherman, who trains Vaca City Flyer while caring for the Northern California string of his father, Art Sherman. "She may simply be a step above everyone else. Maybe this time where she's got the rail and we drew outside, it could help. We can dictate where we want to be at."

Snowdrop is a router who could be at a disadvantage returning to a sprint. She is likely being pointed to the Oct. 6 Autumn Leaves at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

"I'm in there because there's nowhere else to go locally," trainer Gil Matos said. "There's a couple races coming up, but I can't wait without a race that far apart. I can't just let her sit."

Greg Gilchrist, who trains Victorina, and Sherman both say they appreciate being able to get a prep into their stakes horses.

"A prep race helps," Gilchrist said.

"It's very important," said Sherman. "There's nothing like having a game plan ."