02/06/2002 12:00AM

Tanforan Cap may be delayed turf debut of I'madrifter

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ALBANY, Calif. - When trainer Steve Specht entered I'madrifter in the Lafayette Handicap on New Year's Day at Golden Gate Fields, he did so only because he thought the race might come off the turf.

His plan worked to perfection. The race came off the grass, and I'madrifter won the $100,000 race over a sloppy track.

Specht has nominated I'madrifter to Saturday's $100,000 Tanforan Handicap, a Grade 3 scheduled for the turf, and this time he hopes the race will stay on the turf.

"If a horse has any ability, I think you should try him on the turf," Specht said.

I'madrifter has shown ability on the dirt, with five wins from 11 starts and $150,050 in earnings. If he proves he can run well on the turf, it will open Specht's options.

"Occasionally, you have a horse that's good on the dirt and will move up on the turf or run equal," Specht said.

Equal would be fine with Specht.

"I've wanted to race him on the grass, but at Bay Meadows, nobody wins on the lead," said Specht of his confirmed front-runner.

"I want him to run on the turf, but I didn't want him to run on those lily pads," Specht said of what would have been a very soft turf course had it been used on New Year's Day.

Specht said Wednesday he was "90 percent sure" that he would enter I'madrifter on Thursday, but he is keeping an eye on the weather. Rain is predicted before the weekend.

"I hope it doesn't rain at all or rains like hell and they move it off the turf," he said.

There is a one-mile allowance race Specht could run in on the main track at Santa Anita on Saturday, but he would prefer to stay home.

"I think he can handle turf," Specht said. "He's pretty athletic. He can handle any surface."

Ten horses were listed as probable for the Tanforan the day before entries were to be taken.

Da Vinna heads feature

A field of seven older fillies and mares is scheduled to compete in a six-furlong sprint in Friday's feature race at Golden Gate Fields.

Leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer sends out an uncoupled entry of Da Vinna, a beaten favorite in her last start, and Endearment, who finished a nose ahead of her stablemate.

Da Vinna came off an 11-month layoff to win a maiden race by 7 1/2 lengths to earn favoritism in a Jan. 18 allowance race. She was involved in a hot pace duel before fading to third despite having a double bias advantage (speed and inside position) in her favor. Endearment edged her stablemate for second in the final stride as Fancee Bargain won the race by a neck.

Our Lady Hennessy, a winner in her debut that same day, and Catspaw, freshened since a maiden win on Nov. 17, head the opposition. Runaway Susie, Microlady, and Social Belle round out the field.

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