01/04/2005 12:00AM

Tialinga faces obstacles


ARCADIA, Calif. - A wet track may be the least of Tialinga's concerns Thursday at Santa Anita, where she will sprint six furlongs against five other California-bred fillies and mares in the race-7 feature.

Although no starter is sharper than Tialinga, picking the winner of the one-other-than allowance sprint is not as simple as identifying the filly with the highest recent speed figure. Tialinga may be the most probable winner of the $48,000 allowance, but she will have to win under possibly disadvantageous conditions.

A 4-year-old filly by Cee's Tizzy, Tialinga has won 3 of 18 lifetime, including a career-best romp in her last start, on Dec. 16 at Hollywood Park, which earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 85. A repeat performance might be good enough to win. But as usual, there is a catch.

is racing Thursday at a distance far shorter than she prefers. In six starts at six furlongs, she has only a single third-place finish. Tialinga faced allowance company twice, and finished virtually nowhere both times. On Thursday, the gray jumps up in class from a $40,000 claimer against 3-year-olds into a California-bred allowance against older.

Thirdly, Tialinga faces pace pressure from both the inside and outside. is a claiming-caliber speedster who will prevent Tialinga from gaining an easy lead. Strut Your Stuff is a lightly raced comebacker whose front-running win back in July compares favorably to Tialinga.

Three others will try to score upsets - Go Bye Bye, Buttertart and Saxony.

Despite the many obstacles, Tialinga's sharp current form makes her the most likely winner. Trained by Gary Stute and scheduled to be ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Tialinga has won 3 of 11 since she was claimed by her current owners in June. A 4-year-old by Cee's Tizzy, Tialinga is 1 for 1 on a wet track, and if she can handle the pace pressure at the short trip she can win.

Otherwise, Strut Your Stuff might be the right filly. She improved in each subsequent start over the summer and capped a three-race campaign with a seven-length romp in a Cal-bred maiden race at Del Mar. That July 29 victory was her most recent start.

Trained by Don Warren, Strut Your Stuff has worked well for her return. The drawbacks to her form are a wet track and unestablished ability to run well fresh.