09/20/2005 11:00PM

Turf force Pickle tries dirt stakes


POMONA, Calif. - The ambiguity surrounding the $100,000 Las Madrinas Handicap on Friday at Fairplex Park begins with 121-pound highweight Pickle.

is a graded stakes winner on turf, running on dirt in the Las Madrinas. "She works on dirt all the time," trainer Sandy Shulman said, while admitting that "working is not running."

Allswellthatnswell is a sprint stakes winner, running in a three-turn, 1 1/16-mile and a sixteenth route in the Las Madrinas. "If the pace is realistic, maybe she can keep running," trainer Don Warren said.

The Las Madrinas is the filly-mare championship of the Los Angeles County Fair, and the first of three consecutive $100,000 stakes closing weekend. The Pomona Derby for 3-year-olds is on Saturday; the Ralph M. Hinds Handicap for older horses is on Sunday.

Questions surround all nine Las Madrinas starters. is a Group 1 winner from Argentina in her easiest U.S. chance yet.

Shulman was not looking for an easy spot for Pickle, only a shorter van ride. A freeway closure resulted in a 19-hour van ride to Santa Rosa for a stakes July 30, and Pickle paid the price, finishing second at 2-5. It took 11 hours to ship to Bay Meadows for her next Sept. 3, and Pickle lost again at odds-on.

Winner of Grade 3 turf routes in April and May and 7 for 21 overall, Pickle is stabled at Santa Anita.

"This is only a 45-minute jaunt across town," Shulman said, while recognizing the Las Madrinas topweight faces two unknowns - dirt and the five-furlong Fairplex track.

Garrett Gomez, whose win Monday on Gn. Group Meeting in the $60,000 CTBA Marian Stakes made it 3 for 3 in stakes at Fairplex, rides Pickle. If the 4-year-old filly handles dirt, she can win. Likewise, if Allswellthatnswell handles the pace, she may upset.

The favorite might be Brooke's Halo, gate to wire.