06/03/2010 11:00PM

Tanda looking to step up in Acorn

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ELMONT, N.Y. - In the mind of trainer Dan Hendricks, Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 Acorn Stakes at one mile marks a crossroads for the 3-year-old filly division. And he believes his Acorn entrant Tanda, winner of a pair of Grade 3 sprints in California in her last two starts, could be poised to take the right path.

"Maybe we're catching the fillies who have run in the Oaks and races like that at a good time," Hendricks said earlier this week.

In other words, maybe those fillies - like Tidal Pool, Amen Hallelujah, Crisp, Quiet Temper, and Champagne d'Oro, who all ran in the Kentucky Oaks five weeks ago - might have knocked themselves out getting to and then running in such a demanding race. Perhaps those fillies will be vulnerable now to a comer like Tanda.

Tanda is certainly on an ascending course. She ran reasonably well in the first four starts of her career, winning two of them. But she really broke through two starts back with a decisive upset win in the Santa Paula Stakes at Santa Anita, and she confirmed that score with a determined victory in the Railbird Stakes at Hollywood. It should be noted that the Beyer Speed Figures Tanda earned in those races -- 98 in the Railbird, 97 in the Santa Paula -- put her right there with the best anyone else in the Acorn, including the Oaks fillies, have ever earned.

"She just matured," Hendricks explained. "By her third start, we began to see her get more professional about everything. She came around slowly, but she's maturing at the right time."

One big question concerning Tanda in the Acorn is the dirt surface. Tanda has only raced on synthetic footing or turf.

"Hollywood," where Tanda just won the Railbird, "is the least synthetic track we have out here," Hendricks said. "It plays like a fast dirt track, and there have been a lot of horses over the last year or so who have come back off of it and run well on dirt. We're taking our shot."

Of the fillies who ran in the Kentucky Oaks, Amen Hallelujah appears the most dangerous off the cutback in distance. Although Amen Hallelujah was far from disgraced in defeat going nine furlongs around two turns in her last two starts, she won a pair of Grade 2 stakes before that going one turn, including a dominating score at this one-mile distance in the Davona Dale.

Tidal Pool was third in the Kentucky Oaks after setting the pace, finishing ahead of all the others in here who ran in that race. But her third as the favorite after rating off the lead in the subsequent Black-Eyed Susan suggests she might be tailing off.

Streaker, like Tanda, is an intriguing up-and-comer. Streaker will be making her stakes debut after winning the first three starts of her career, the second of which was a decision over Acting Happy, who came back with a fine performance winning the Black-Eyed Susan.