11/08/2001 12:00AM

Star Ball worthy rematch of Hillsborough


Saturday's $55,000-added Star Ball Handicap, the first of 30 stakes on the 2001-2002 Golden Gate Fields schedule, is a rematch of the top finishers from $50,000 Hillsborough Handicap, run at Bay Meadows on Oct. 13. In the 1 1/16-mile Hillsborough run over the Longden turf course, Slow Down rallied far wide in the stretch run to outnod Aviate for her first stakes victory.

Slow Down was ridden by Randy Valdez, who won his first stakes victory in the Hillsborough. Slow Down carried 114 pounds in the Hillsborough and will pick up two pounds for Saturday's Star Ball. The Star Ball, over Golden Gate's Lakeside turf course, will also be run at 1 1/16 miles.

The Hillsborough was the second win for Slow Down, trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella. A royally bred daughter of Seattle Slew, she has finished well in all of her races and should again be flying in the stretch run.

Aviate carried 117 pounds in the Hillsborough and appeared headed to victory at the sixteenth pole but was just outfinished by Slow Down. She was spotting her main rival three pounds on that afternoon but the weight break narrows for the Star Ball.

Aviate, trained by Ted West, has one win so far in 2001. She has strong seconds in her last two starts.

Shericaine, trained by Darrell Vienna, was third in the Hillsborough, her last race, and also should figure strongly. She set the pace to midstretch in that race, weakening in the late stages to finish third. Shericaine also was second in allowance company at Bay Meadows and a close-up fourth in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap in May at Hollywood Park.

Be Fair is also trained by Richard Mandella and will be making her U.S. debut in the Star Ball. Be Fair has been idle since April 2000 when she was beaten just a nose in a stakes in South America. Be Fair won three times last season in only four starts and has five victories in her career.

Planoncometbebopin, trained by Chuck Jenda, is the top local threat in the Star Ball. She already has four victories in her 3-year-old season.

Planoncometbebopin won her first stakes at Pleasanton when her late rally captured the Pleasanton Senorita. She also scored over the Longden turf course at Bay Meadows in August when she triumphed from far back in the Floral Fiesta.

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