10/28/2005 12:00AM

Stalking trip the key for Red Top


ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Patrick Gallagher likes the way Red Top is coming into Sunday's $100,000 Miss America Handicap at Golden Gate Fields, and thinks she has a good chance to win her first stakes in the 1 1/8-mile turf race.

Given a seven-week freshener after winning a race over the course here May 29, Red Top has run three times in Southern California since, including allowance races in which she was sixth by 2 1/2 lengths and second by a half-length.

In her last start, Red Top was fourth by 1 1/2 lengths in a restricted stakes at a mile Oct. 7. Gallagher said he liked the way she flew through the lane that day after being forced wide on the second turn.

"She's been running decent races against nice fillies, even though they were allowance races," Gallagher said. "If we get her to relax early, she could be tough here."

Even though is 0 for 3 at Sunday's distance, Gallagher said, "It seems like she'll get that far." In her last try at 1 1/8 miles, Red Top set the pace before getting caught late in the lane and finishing fourth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths. With the presence of Penny Ante and Miss Me, Red Top should be able to get her preferred stalking trip.

Red Top may offer some value, even though she comes into the race with the best last-race Beyer, a 92. She has had two half-mile turf works at Santa Anita since her last start.

was second in the Autumn Leaves Handicap at Bay Meadows in her last start. Two starts back, she finished fifth, 3 1/4 lengths behind Red Top in second.

won the Grade 2 El Encino in January and faded in her comeback in the Grade 2 Clement Hirsch after breaking through the gate. She has worked steadily for this but is 0 for 4 on turf.

Penny Ante had a two-stakes winning streak snapped in the Autumn Leaves, where she finished third. Although 1 1/8 miles may be a bit long for her, she is at the top of her game.

First Draft makes her third start off a layoff and will benefit from the rain that fell on the course this week. She will be bidding for her second Miss America victory of the year, having won the Miss America at Bay Meadows over a yielding track in April.