12/23/2004 12:00AM

Tricky Surf dangerous despite rise


ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Steve Specht doesn't mind that he can't figure out the 4-year-old filly Tricky Surf.

"Every time I run her, I think she's in too high," he said.

He has the same thought about his placement of Tricky Surf in Sunday's $100,000 Work the Crowd Handicap at Golden Gate Fields.

probably won't be one of the favorites among the 10 Cal-bred fillies and mares in the one-mile turf race, but she will take some beating.

Since returning to the turf in a $6,250 claimer at Bay Meadows on Sept. 3, Tricky Surf has been practically unbeatable. She has won 4 of 5 starts and $56,595, a figure she can just about double with a victory Sunday.

She won by three lengths when she returned to the turf and followed up with a 1 1/2-length victory in a $6,250 starter allowance race.

Then came a victory by a neck in allowance company, followed by a sixth-place finish in the Star Ball Handicap, which was won by multiple stakes winner Frisco Belle. Tricky Surf rebounded from the loss with another victory by a neck, in a $50,000 optional claimer.

Specht was disappointed with the ride Miguel Perez gave Tricky Surf in the Star Ball. She was eased down the lane after clipping heels and being checked severely at the eighth pole.

"Last time, he rode her perfect," Specht said of Perez's ride in the optional claiming win.

Because she comes from off the pace, Tricky Surf needs honest fractions up front. She should get that with the presence of Marty's Zee, who comes off a wire-to-wire win in a $50,000 optional claimer; her speedy stablemate Our Mango; and Alphabet Kisses, whose owner-breeder John Harris also ran Work the Crowd.

Alphabet Kisses, an improving 3-year-old, has run poorly only once in her eight-race career. She was ninth behind Our Mango in the Cal Cup Distaff down the hill at Santa Anita when, in the words of trainer Marty Jones, "she took a right turn" when crossing over the main track.

Given a six-week freshener, Alphabet Kisses set the early pace, was passed near the quarter-pole, but re-rallied to win a $62,500 optional claimer at Hollywood Park.

"Gary [Stevens] did a good job getting her to relax," Jones said. "She was so relaxed, a filly went by her, but the way she came back and won last time was real encouraging."

Shalini was beaten less than a length when fourth as the favorite in the Star Ball. She'll have to catch Alphabet Kisses and then hold off Tricky Surf.