03/07/2009 12:00AM

Taking a gamble on Annabill


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Milt Wolfson originally planned on passing Sunday's $75,000 Ocala Stakes at Gulfstream with his multiple stakes winner Annabill. In fact he didn't even nominate her to the race. But the former claimer was doing so well he decided to put up the $3,000 supplemental payment and enter her in the one-mile stakes restricted to Florida-bred fillies and mares.

"I figured, how tough could this race come up being for statebreds?" said Wolfson. "Then I pick up the overnight and saw they shipped in that filly from California."

"That filly" Wolfson was referring to is trainer Greg Gilchrist's Victorina, who figures to go postward the heavy favorite to win the inaugural running of the Ocala.

"I could always scratch and get my $3,000 back, but after looking over the race it seems like my horse and Victorina are the ones to beat, so I'll take a shot," said Wolfson. "There's enough speed in there that the race should set up pretty well for my horse. And I'm just glad to get her back on conventional dirt after running her on that Pro-Ride stuff in the Sunshine Millions Dash and the turf course here in her last two starts."

Annabill finished fifth in both the Sunshine Dash and Marion County within a 15-day span earlier this winter. She's always been at her best, however, over dirt, where she's registered 16 of her 17 victories. Annabill's most recent tally came on Aug. 24 in Calder's Cinnamon Girl overnight stakes, the last victory of a four-race win streak that spanned nearly the entire summer.

Wolfson is also waiting on the results of his appeal of Annabill's second-place finish in the $200,000 Elmer Heubeck Distaff Handicap in her 2008 finale. Annabill was beaten a nose by Amazing after being bumped by that rival in deep stretch.

Victorina is a well-travelled sort but will be testing the Gulfstream Park strip for the first time in the Ocala. A daughter of Delaware Township, Victorina has shipped to south Florida once before, capturing Calder's Grade 3 Azalea Stakes at 3. Now 6, Victorina has won three of her last four starts, all stakes, with each of those victories coming over the artificial surface at Golden Gate Fields.

The Ocala drew a field of 11 fillies and mares. Other key contenders include Peach Flambe, winner of the restricted Cicada Stakes here last spring, Zee Zee, Cat Can Do, You Asked, and the speedy Peisinoe.