04/24/2003 11:00PM

Turtle Bow, Dublino looking ahead


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Although Turtle Bow and Dublino promise to emerge as major players in the female turf division, there are no guarantees that will happen Sunday at Hollywood Park. Nine fillies and mares entered the Grade 3 Wilshire Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile race that is not the primary objective for either.

"They are ready to run, and I hope to use the race as a good prep to the Gamely," said Laura de Seroux, trainer of both Turtle Bow and Dublino, adding, "They are fit enough to race, but their best is in front of them."

Turtle Bow and Dublino are high weights at 121 pounds and 120, respectively, racing for the first time since the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. The six-month inactivity and stated objective toward races that are both richer and farther than the $100,000 Wilshire, are good reasons to seek wagering alternatives. There are plenty of candidates, including several who are racing-fit.

Final Destination, whose Feb. 17 win in the Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap ran her win streak to five, fits. Trained by Bobby Frankel, the New Zealand import has targeted the Wilshire for two months. Southern Oasis won three consecutive allowance races at Santa Anita. She faces graded stakes company for the first time. Finally, Dublino's entrymate Little Treasure should improve in her second start of the year.

The outsiders are Coney Kitty, Rhythm of Live, Melody Blue, and Damaschino.

Turtle Bow has won 5 of 10 starts, including a Group 2 win last summer in France. After a runner-up finish in her U.S. debut in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl, she finished ninth in the Breeders' Cup, then spent the winter being freshened A 4-year-old, Turtle Bow adds Lasix on Sunday.

Dublino has raced five times, three in the U.S. She was disqualified from victory in her U.S. debut in the American Oaks, won the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, then finished 10th in the Breeders' Cup. Turtle Bow is owned by Andrew Chricton; Dublino is owned by a partnership.

"I can't tell you who is better at this point, although Turtle Bow has fabulous European form," de Seroux said.

While either filly could win the Wilshire, both prefer longer distances. Turtle Bow runs solo Sunday, while Dublino is coupled with a filly that de Seroux warns not to sell short. "Little Treasure has had a race," she said. "This is more her distance and maybe it'll be her day."

Not if Frankel has a say. Final Destination has forgotten how to lose, and her versatility should lead to her sixth straight win, and third since being purchased by Edmund Gann.