04/06/2006 12:00AM

Trickle of Gold back in comfort zone


Trickle of Gold, virtually unbeatable at Mid-Atlantic tracks last season, returns to her favorite region in Saturday's $85,000 Primonetta Stakes at Laurel Park after two unsuccessful trips to Southern California and Florida.

If Trickle of Gold, 4, regains the form that enabled her to win 6 of 7 starts at Delaware Park and Laurel in 2005, including the Grade 3 Safely Kept Breeders' Cup last October, the eight other fillies and mares in the six-furlong Primonetta will be running for second money.

There are some doubts whether Trickle of Gold is still the same super-fast filly, however, after she failed to show her customary early speed in the Grade 1 La Brea at Santa Anita and faded badly in the final furlong of the Grade 3 First Lady Handicap at Gulfstream Park in January.

"This race fits her well," said trainer Mike Gorham, who sent Trickle of Gold out for a three-furlong work in 35.40 seconds on Tuesday at Delaware. "We wanted to run her in a spot that was a bit easier than the competition she's been facing in California and Florida. Hopefully she'll break well, and we'll let her do her thing."

Trickle of Gold must cope with several other front-runners who are unlikely to allow her an easy lead. Funny Woman, Malibu Moonshine, and Flame of Love have all been in front for at least the first half-mile of their last three races.

Of the speedsters, Flame of Love might be Trickle of Gold's most dangerous rival. A 6-year-old claimed by trainer Scott Lake for $25,000 last November at Philadelphia Park, Flame of Love proceeded to reel off three consecutive wire-to-wire wins, including the six-furlong What a Summer at Laurel in January. She's coming back just two weeks after flashing speed and tiring in the Grade 2 Distaff BC Handicap at Aqueduct.

"I'm not concerned with the abundance of speed in the race," Lake said. "She can come from out of it, if need be."

Should an intense pace battle burn out the front-runners, Jet Set Citi could come flying late. A 4-year-old owned and bred by NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff, Jet Set Citi is 4 for 6 in her career - all sprints at Laurel - and has yet to finish worse than third.

A fast pace would also aid Sun Sapphire, a 5-year-old whose 11-for-22 record has been compiled primarily against claiming company.