10/31/2002 12:00AM

Super High might handle her least favorite surface


ARCADIA, Calif. - For most of the year, Super High has made her mark on turf, winning three stakes against both statebreds and open company. Saturday, in the $150,000 California Cup Matron at Santa Anita, the 3-year-old Super High can prove she does not need a grass surface to find the winner's circle.

Facing a modest field, Super High will go favored in the Matron, run over 1 1/16 miles on dirt. In her last start on the main track in April, Super High finished second in the Melair Stakes on Gold Rush Day at Hollywood Park.

Saturday's Matron is the perfect race for another main-track attempt. The race lacks a well-known runner such as Belle's Flag (1996, 1998), or Feverish (1999).

In the Matron, Super High will have a new jockey in Patrick Valenzuela, who replaces Garrett Gomez. Gomez has not ridden since Oct. 23 for personal reasons.

A front-runner, Super High should be a good match for Valenzuela, one of the nation's top gate jockeys. Trained by Carla Gaines, the 3-year-old Super High is not speed crazy, but tends to take advantage early in her races. The strategy worked in the minor California Sires Stakes and the Flawlessly Stakes against open company at Hollywood Park and again in the Solana Beach Handicap against statebred older fillies and mares at Del Mar.

In her most recent start on Oct. 14, Super High was second best in a division of the Harold Ramser Handicap, leading to deep stretch before being caught by Kithira.

Super High will not face much pressure in the Matron, which drew seven other fillies and mares. Only Castling has won a stakes this year, the Valkyr Handicap for California-bred fillies and mares on turf at Hollywood Park in July.

Elaine's Angel will attract support. A 4-year-old trained by Jerry Dutton, she was third in the Solana Beach and returned to finish a well-beaten fifth to Azeri in the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap here Oct. 2.

Cee's Elegance makes her first stakes appearance in 13 months. Winless in five races this year, she has been second in three consecutive optional claimers over one mile, all against open company.

Her last race, a two-length loss to Sea Reel on Oct. 11, impressed trainer Doug O'Neill.

"She gave us a big effort," O'Neill said. "The races made us realize you don't have to train real hard on her. We'll take a stab and that's an advantage that we have being a Cal-bred."

Cee's Elegance will mark the first stakes mount in the comeback of Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone, who was scheduled to return from a retirement of 3 1/2 years on Friday.

Cee's Elegance is "not real comfortable being hit, so we're hoping Julie's finesse will help," O'Neill said.

O'Neill will also start Broke the Slump, who finished fourth in the California Cup Distaff Starter Handicap last year, a race no longer being run. The 4-year-old Broke the Slump has scored one win in seven starts this year, an optional claimer for California-breds at Del Mar.

"We're just taking a shot," O'Neill said.