10/31/2002 12:00AM

Ten furlongs uncharted territory for this group


ARCADIA, Calif. - The newly created $100,000 California Cup Distance Handicap will have no shortage of starters when it is launched Saturday at Santa Anita.

There were 11 fillies and mares entered for the turf race over 1 1/4 miles. For one of them, a victory would be a first. None is a winner over the distance, and only the longshot Exclusiveandcatty has tried the extended distance.

The Distance Handicap replaces a starter handicap previously run over 1 1/4 miles on turf for claimers.

Despite the new conditions, there are trainers starting fillies and mares with confidence.

Bob's Lady is the expected favorite, based on her win in the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Marian Stakes over 1 1/16 miles at Fairplex Park on Sept. 23. The victory came in the longest race of her career and put her on course for the Distance Handicap.

"I've had plenty of time to train her," John Sadler said. "She's worked a mile. I don't think the distance will be a problem. I'm anxious to try a mile and a quarter."

A 3-year-old, Bob's Lady carries 113 pounds and will be ridden by Iggy Puglisi, who was aboard in the CTBA Marian. Bob's Lady is the lone stakes winner in the field.

Dena's Diamond finished second in the 2001 California Sires Stakes and has shown hints that she will be suited to the distance. On Oct. 9, she finished third in an allowance race against open company over 1 1/8 miles on turf, missing by a half-length after making up more than three lengths in the final quarter-mile.

Trained by Caesar Dominguez, Dena's Diamond has yet to win on turf in two attempts.

First Draft may not start. A 3-year-old, First Draft finished third against $62,500 claimers over a mile on turf on Wednesday.

The 3-year-old Calzada Kid, Exclusiveandcatty, and Sunset Serenade will carry starting high weight of 115 pounds. Calzada Kid was third in the Melair Stakes on California Gold Rush Day last April and later won an optional claimer against open company.

Following a fifth in the Grade 3 Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 15, Calzada Kid was given a break. She returned to finish a troubled sixth in an optional claimer at Bay Meadows on Oct. 14. Calzada Kid races for owner-breeder Arthur Walker Jr.

Exclusiveandcatty has been claimed in her last two starts for $50,000 in each race. Third in the Valkyr Stakes over a mile on turf at Hollywood Park on July 19, she was seventh over this distance in a $40,000 claimer last March.

Sunset Serenade won an allowance race over a mile on turf for California-breds on Oct. 4. A 4-year-old, she has been in the first three in eight of her nine starts this year.

"She's been running against lesser but she acts like she'll run that far," Gallagher said of the Distance Handicap. "She's stayed pretty consistent. It's a jump up, but it's a chance to run for $100,000."