08/29/2003 11:00PM

Super High gets test in Solana Beach


DEL MAR, Calif. - Carla Gaines will be watching Monday's $125,000 Solana Beach Handicap with both anticipation and trepidation. Her filly Super High is the defending champion in the race, and is the highweight at 120 pounds for this year's running. On her best day, she is the horse to beat.

But Super High is coming off a sixth-place finish in her comeback race on July 31, leaving Gaines with the nagging fear that Super High might have lost her desire to compete. Super High has trained well since her last race, according to Gaines, and she was facing a brutally strong field in that classified allowance, but Gaines thought Super High would run better.

"Naturally, I was a little disappointed," the trainer said Saturday morning. "She did get pressed on a fast pace. It was a long layoff, and she never got a breather. I wrote it off as her needing the race, but there's always the fear in the back of your mind that fillies after an injury make a decision to not bother with racing. That's my biggest fear going into this. But she's training well, and she likes this course."

Super High fractured a cannon bone last year. Before that, she had won six times in 13 starts, including last year's Solana Beach, two other turf stakes, and the California Cup Matron. After being off for eight months, she returned on July 31 and tired after setting the pace for six furlongs in a one-mile grass race. That race's winner, Crazy Ensign, came back to win a stakes race here on Thursday.

Seven others are entered against Super High in the one-mile turf race, which goes as the fifth on the card.

The 3-year-old Summer Wind Dancer is facing her elders for the first time and trying turf for the first time, but she has finished in the money in all seven of her starts while winning two stakes, including last year's California Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Sunset Serenade was a fast-finishing second in the Valkyr, another one-mile grass race, at Hollywood Park on July 19. Centerofattention is coming off a stakes win at Santa Rosa. Continental Lu is making her third start since returning from a nine-month layoff.