12/10/2004 12:00AM

Turf feature full of tough 3-year-olds


ALBANY, Calif. - Two first-level allowance races top an interesting Sunday card at Golden Gate Fields.

A pair of maiden races open the card. In the seventh, an overflow field of fillies and mares has signed up for a 1 1/16-mile turf race. The co-feature in the eighth attracted seven runners going six furlongs.

A trio of 3-year-old fillies appear to be the ones to beat in the turf race. Yet another 3-year-old, I Fooled You, has a pair of seconds over the course but is on the also-eligible list and may not draw in.

Stalking-type First Draft and also-eligible Sister Mary Hugh are the only older mares in the field.

Among the 3-year-olds, Penny Ante won her maiden when she stretched out to a mile for a $32,000 claiming price on Sept. 15 at Bay Meadows. She came right back in a starter allowance and won easily. Sent to Hollywood Park for a matchup against allowance rivals, she stalked to the stretch before tiring and fading out of the picture.

Trained by leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Penny Ante has prospered since stretching out and has a pair of decent maintenance drills to maintain her sharpness. She also gets turf whiz Ron Warren Jr. to ride.

Naughty Laura won for a $25,000 claiming price over the Lakeside Turf Course in her last start. Unlike Penny Ante, she has little early speed and has to rely on her strong late kick.

Strong Faith, who drew the rail, hasn't finished off the board in three career turf starts. She should be sitting farther back than Penny Ante, but Strong Faith is a definite contender, having finished second over the turf course here on Nov. 21.

In the other feature, Mashiko has already proven to be faster than Tenth Street, who has drawn inside him in the six-furlong race. But is Mashiko as quick as Ice Legend, who will be making his third start since a 13-month layoff?

Ice Legend was part of a blazing-fast pace in his comeback and seemed to bounce off that effort.

There is plenty of speed in the race, which could work to the advantage of a horse and rider willing to remain off the pace.

Any Questions, who has come within a nose of winning three straight races, should get an ideal trip off a starter allowance victory last time.

Although he graduated in wire to wire, he was able to sit back early last time and wound up running a career-high Beyer Speed Figure.