08/26/2005 12:00AM

Storminbayoubabe can take the heat - and she'll have to


Storminbayoubabe is 2 for 2 on the turf, both races sprints, which is probably enough to make her the favorite in a five-furlong turf event for optional-claiming distaffers at Bay Meadows Sunday. Storminbayoubabe has four rivals, and every one of them has enough speed to give her trouble.

Storminbayoubabe, who breaks from the rail, has been on the lead at the first call in her last two races. Quintara, to her immediate right, has been on the lead at the first call in her last four starts. Key Secret was on the lead at the first call two starts back, and second by just a head at the first call last time. Sweet Kendall Joe has been on the lead at the first call in all nine career starts. And on the outside, Impressive Flight has been on the lead at the first call in each of her last four starts.

Only one of the five can have the lead at the first call here, so the winner will either have to take all the heat and keep going, or relax, stalk, and pass the tiring speed. Storminbayoubabe, owned by Daniel O'Neill and trained by Steve Specht, has won without the lead before, which gives her the advantage Sunday.

She won her last start, on the dirt at Santa Rosa July 28, in gate-to-wire fashion, as she did in her first turf try, at Santa Anita in April. But the key race may be her win going five furlongs on the turf at Golden Gate June 19. She was outrun for the lead that day, but under Frank Alvarado she was able to stay close to the pace and still had the punch to blow on by for a relatively easy score. Alvarado rides again and similar tactics can reap similar benefits.

Impressive Flight may be her biggest rival. Owned by Chris McHale and trained by Doug O'Neill, Impressive Flight can flat fly early and has been plying her trade against some tough competition in Southern California. She's been involved in pace duels before and has managed to prevail after being headed, so she's got some guts. Russell Baze rides.

The other three each have merit. Quintara was sharp in the spring and early summer and comes here off a rest. She's mostly been routing but can sprint, and has won on turf. Key Secret invades from Southern California and may have improved since losing by over five lengths to Storminbayoubabe in that June 19 turf sprint at Golden Gate. Sweet Kendall Jo will be winging early and she comes off a fine first try on turf at Santa Rosa at this same distance. She set the pace and stayed on well to hold second.