08/29/2001 12:00AM

Stars take on 'Tamara' in Torrey Pines


DEL MAR, Calif. - Notable Career has not raced in 10 months; Cindy's Hero has not raced successfully around two turns. If those were their only hurdles, the $75,000 Torrey Pines Stakes Friday at Del Mar would be a two-filly race.

However, lightly raced Tamara Princess threatens to emerge as a division leader, and despite having raced only twice, she is the key starter in the Torrey Pines. A mile race for 3-year-old fillies, the Torrey Pines also attracted longshots Irguns Angel, Warren's Whistle, Elaine's Angel, and Emerald Magic.

Relative to the exploits of Notable Career, who won the Grade 1 Oak Leaf last year, and Cindy's Hero, winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante last year, Tamara Princess has much to prove. After all, her resume includes only a maiden sprint and a two-turn allowance. Still, the visual impression and corresponding Beyer Speed Figures (97 and 95) suggests a bright future for Tamara Princess, a full sister to Riboletta.

Bred in the Southern Hemisphere in Brazil, Tamara Princess turned 3 only last month. Assuming she improves as she matures, she figures to join the elite of her division. Trained by Eduardo Inda and owned by Aaron Jones, Tamara Princess will be tested for class Friday, but she has the current form that her main foes lack.

Notable Career was a precocious 2-year-old last summer, winning the Grade 3 Landaluce over six furlongs in July before two second-place finishes in Del Mar stakes sprints. Trained by Bob Baffert, Notable Career caught a severe speed bias Oct. 8 at Santa Anita and raced gate to wire in the Oak Leaf. She came out of a fifth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies with an injury that required 10 months off.

Owned and bred by John and Betty Mabee, Notable Career has been training super, and is likely to have the lead. Two key trends - a hot barn and a speed-friendly racetrack - suggest she could win first start back. Baffert entered Wednesday on a 9-for-18 run, and eight of the last nine winners of one-mile dirt races were on the lead at the quarter pole.

Notable Career may or not be a true distance horse, but she is the one to catch. Cindy's Hero, meanwhile, is still trying to prove she can stay a distance. Upset winner of the Del Mar Debutante last year (over Notable Career), Cindy's Hero has floundered in five starts since. Not coincidentally, all five races were around two turns. Trained by David Hofmans, Cindy's Hero will be picking up the pieces late.

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