10/18/2004 11:00PM

Three turf races tough calls


ARCADIA, Calif. - Months earlier than usual, wet weather is causing havoc on Southern California racing. Two turf races Sunday were switched to the main track, the Wednesday card was expected to change pending more rain, and the Thursday card will make the racing office look like geniuses or otherwise.

Three grass races are scheduled Thursday, including two that typically are among the first casualties of wet weather - a pair of 6 1/2-furlong turf sprints. Because the downhill turf course crosses the main track before rejoining the turf course, downhill sprints usually are switched to dirt in inclement weather to prevent turf horses from slipping and sliding over the wet main track.

The uncertain weather often makes preliminary handicapping a study in frustration. Race 3 on Thursday, for maiden fillies and mares, includes six whose last start was on turf. Three are logical contenders - each finished in the money or within a length of the winner last time. If the race is moved to dirt, comebacker Glamour Cat and 0-for-9 An Annika Moment become top choices.

Race 5 on Thursday, for 2-year-old maiden fillies, also is scheduled for 6 1/2 furlongs on turf. On turf or dirt, two well-connected first-time starters are among the contenders. The Ron McAnally-trained , sired by Giant's Causeway, debuts with a string of sharp works. The Bobby Frankel-trained Of a Lifetime, sired by Broad Brush, should make her presence felt.

The best race on the card is race 7, in which returns from a three-month layoff for McAnally. The lightly raced import from Chile scored an impressive win in her U.S. debut June 19, but everything unraveled when she made her next start on July 21 at Del Mar. She washed out, got rank, pulled to the lead, and was outfinished. Despite it all, she missed by less than two lengths.

A 2-for-5 filly, Paz Ciudadana has trained well since that race, and her impressive U.S. debut makes her one of the top choices in the two-other-than allowance/optional $62,500 claiming race. David Flores rides.

was overmatched in her comeback in the Grade 2 Lady's Secret, and she would benefit from the mile race being switched to dirt. She pressed the pace before tiring to fifth in the Lady's Secret. Second start back and dropping in class, she will be pushing the pace under Kerwin John.

Katana scratched from race 7 Wednesday to run Thursday. Others entered include Woodlass, Awesome Lady, Reefs Sis, Navaja, Katana, and Taygete.