01/22/2004 1:00AM

Super High still kicking


ARCADIA, Calif. - A late-season revival in 2003 gave Super High another year on the racetrack. Already, the decision has been profitable.

A California-bred, Super High won the $100,000 Work the Crowd Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on Jan. 3. Saturday, Super High tries for the richest victory of her career when she faces 10 California-breds and Florida-breds in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita.

Owner John Harris and trainer Carla Gaines considered retiring Super High last year after she lost her first four starts and failed to show the form that led her to three stakes wins in 2002.

In the Cat's Cradle Handicap over 7 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park in November, she chased quick fractions, led in early stretch, and was beaten a head. The performance gave Harris and Gaines the confidence to try Super High, who has excelled in one-mile races, in the six-furlong Filly and Mare Sprint.

"That was her first big effort of the comeback," Gaines said of the Cat's Cradle. "She was close to fast fractions at seven and a half."

The Filly and Mare Sprint is dominated by horses bred or raced in California.

Only three of the 11 entrants are based in Florida: Barbara O'Brien, Mooji Moo, and Vision in Flight. Bear Fan has been based at Palm Meadows training center in Florida in recent weeks but has made all her starts in Southern California.

Of the shippers, Barbara O'Brien has the best chance. A two-time stakes winner, she won the Grade 3 Chaposa Springs Handicap over seven furlongs at Calder on Dec. 13.

Bear Fan has won four races. She was second to Ema Bovary in a six-furlong optional claimer at Hollywood Park on Nov. 29.

"She needed that race," said Blake Heap, assistant to trainer Wesley Ward. "We wanted to get a race into her and get ready for this,"

Bear Fan and Madame Pietra will be short prices.

Madame Pietra won this race last year at Gulfstream Park. A closer, she is making the final start of her career, having recently been acquired privately by Frank Stronach as a broodmare prospect. Madame Pietra, 7, was transferred to trainer Bobby Frankel last month.

Madame Pietra will be chasing the speedy Icantgoforthat, who was ninth in this race last year in Florida. Icantgoforthat has won stakes on dirt and turf at Santa Anita in the last year.

The home track advantage could help Icantgoforthat, according to trainer Steve Knapp.

"I think we have a definite advantage because she loves this track," he said.