02/16/2008 12:00AM

Trick's Pic tries to handle Grade 2 types

Email

ARCADIA, Calif. - Trainer Doug O'Neill credited a drop in class for Trick's Pic's win in the Grade 3 Tuzla Handicap here Jan. 19. Trick's Pic had run in two Grade 2 stakes in the fall with little success.

If O'Neill's theory is correct - that subtle class changes make a significant difference - Trick's Pic could be vulnerable in Monday's $150,000 Buena Vista Handicap at Santa Anita. The Buena Vista, run over a mile on turf, is a Grade 2 race and has drawn several other fillies and mares capable of winning.

Trick's Pic made her first start for O'Neill in the Tuzla, which was run over a mile on turf. Owned by Joseph LaCombe, Trick's Pic had started twice for Jenine Sahadi in the fall, finishing sixth in the Grade 2 Las Palmas Handicap and eighth in the Grade 2 Dahlia Handicap.

In the Tuzla, Trick's Pic rallied from fourth in a field of eight under jockey Victor Espinoza to win by two lengths over I Can See, who also starts in the Buena Vista.

"I thought she was dynamite the other day from off the pace," O'Neill said. "She got a clear lane and pounced. I think the drop in class helped. I think Victor rode her to a brilliant trip."

Espinoza rides Trick's Pic in the Buena Vista, a race that lacks a confirmed front-runner. Live Life, eighth in the Tuzla, has run on the front end. She has drawn the outside post, but also was entered to run at Turf Paradise on Saturday.

Kris' Sis will be near the pace. A 5-year-old mare, Kris' Sis is making her first start for trainer Richard Baltas and her first start since finishing third in the Grade 2 Palomar Handicap at Del Mar last summer.

The runner-up in the Palomar, Black Mamba, is a threat to win the Buena Vista, but conditions may be against her. Trained by John Sadler, Black Mamba is a closer best suited to races farther than a mile. In the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Stakes over 1 1/4 miles on turf last September, Black Mamba finished third, beaten three-quarters of a length by the then-undefeated Nashoba's Key.

"She's a terrific horse," Sadler said. "It's a good race to start the year. She's plenty fit. We think we have the classiest horse in the race."

Alexandra Rose is seeking her second consecutive stakes win. A South African-bred, she won the Grade 3 Monrovia Handicap on the hillside turf course on Jan. 1, her first stakes win in the United States.