12/12/2007 1:00AM

Strong cast squares off in opener

EmailALBANY, Calif. – Northern California racing fans have been watching virtual stakes races in recent months as stakes-caliber fields have been running in allowance preps.

In Friday’s Golden Gate Fields feature, female sprinters are in the spotlight in a six-furlong race to open the card.

Stakes-winning A.V. Flynn and Vaca City Flyer are entered, as is stakes-placed Loyal Bounty. Dixie Magic, who won her first four starts, makes her comeback, and Holy Nova, who is 6 for 11 with each of the six victories at a different track, round out the field.

A.V. Flynn, 3 for 4, makes her second start after winning a comeback race on Oct. 31.

The 3-year-old filly, who set a Pleasanton track record in her debut and followed with a victory in the Solano County Juvenile Fillies Stakes, again draws the outside post, which is perfect for her early speed.

Her lone loss came in the Sunshine Millions Oaks, and she suffered a small chip in an ankle after that race. She came back in a $50,000 optional claimer at Bay Meadows and won by six lengths, earning a 90 Beyer Speed Figure, tops in her career.

Vaca City Flyer, a win machine in 2006 with 6 victories in 8 starts, seeks her first 2007 win, but she has 5 seconds and a third from 7 starts this year.

The 4-for-5 Dixie Magic makes her first start since running fourth in the Hillsboro Stakes on March 24, which was her turf debut and first try around two turns. She then went to the sidelines because of a microscopic bone chip, and rest rather than surgery was prescribed.

“We’re bringing her back in a tough spot,” trainer Bill Morey Jr. said. “How she does will determine if we need to look for high-priced claimers or maybe an overnight stakes.”

Loyal Bounty, beaten three-quarters of a length by Royal Kleven in the California Distaff Turf Championship last December, makes her first start since Feb. 4. She wound up preparations with a pair of six-furlong works.

Holy Nova is the lone entrant who has not run in a stakes, but she’s also the lone entrant with a race over the track, a victory in a $50,000 optional claimer on Nov. 18. She has won races over six different tracks in her career.