09/17/2006 11:00PM

Two deserve closer look


ALBANY, Calif. - Russell Baze rode two of the most interesting runners at Golden Gate Fields last week: Sabi Sand, who dropped from a $62,500 claimer to a $10,000 claimer Thursday, and Victorina, who ran second to Secret Scheme in Saturday's Noe Valley Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Victorina, who won the Grade 3 Azalea at Calder in her last start after finishing third in the one-mile Grade 3 Dogwood at Churchill Downs, was making her first start around two turns in the 1 1/16-mile Noe Valley. She ran a bang-up race - not that anyone noticed.

As expected, Secret Scheme was sensational. Earlier this year, she notched allowance wins by 10 and 16 lengths. She beat Victorina by three lengths in the Noe Valley, with third-place Logan Avenue Linda another 14 lengths back.

Even Victorina's trainer, Greg Gilchrist, said he knew how the race could play out, suggesting before the race that Secret Scheme would likely go out to an unpressured lead and be difficult to run down.

That's exactly what happened.

Secret Scheme's only miscue in the race came on the first turn, when she drifted out a bit, but jockey Chad Schvaneveldt said a minor equipment change could alleviate that problem.

Secret Scheme set a rapid pace, going the first six furlongs in 1:09.90, but when Victorina ranged into contention into the lane, she simply kept going and Victorina had no way to catch her.

Secret Scheme earned a 102 Beyer in the Noe Valley, five points higher than the older male Spellbinder earned in the Grade 3 Berkeley on Labor Day at the same distance. Victorina also earned a 97 Beyer for her runner-up finish in the Noe Valley.

"The whole thing we wanted to find out was if she could handle two turns," Gilchrist said. "I think she passed the test and can do it. That being said, I'm more impressed with her one-turn races and will probably look for them."

Victorina seems a natural for seven furlongs or a mile. Baze seems more convinced than Gilchrist that she can handle two turns, but he said, "I think 1 1/16 miles is about as far as she wants to go."

Sabi Sand was a $385,000 purchase by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer from a 2003 Keeneland yearling sale. Hollendorfer, who often shares ownership with others, owns Sabi Sand outright.

A 4-year-old colt, Sabi Sand won his first two career starts, then was a distant fourth going against older horses in a route in July 2005. He seemed to have no chance that day against a sharp Bells Fool and did not race again for 11 months.

In his comeback June 10, Sabi Sand was second to stakes winner Stone Rain in a $62,500 optional claimer. He then resurfaced three months later for $10,000, after being scratched once from a similar race. Sabi Sand looked like his old self, winning by five lengths and finishing six furlongs in 1:09 while being geared down. No one claimed him.

No one rides cheap horses and horses making very suspicious drops, such as Sabi Sand, as fearlessly as Baze does.

"I get on a lot of horses for Jerry in the morning, so I know how they're traveling," Baze said.

Although Sabi Sand is "classy," as Baze says, he has enough problems that he'll probably finish his career at lower levels.

For Baze, there was another little secret about riding the likes of Sabi Sand in a spot such as this.

"You don't have to ride them very much," he said. "I just took a good hold of him early, and he didn't have to run very far to get in front."

Thoughtuknew sets track record

Thoughtuknew, a 4-year-old gelding making his third start following a 16 1/2-month layoff, broke the Golden Gate Fields record for five furlongs Sunday, when he finished in 55.43 seconds to defeat Razen Hazen by two lengths in a $20,000 claimer.

The previous record of 56.12 was set by Contradiction on Jan. 1, 2003.

Thoughtuknew ran fractions of 20.89 and 43.07, and opened by five lengths in the lane before coasting home.

Will Coyote Moon finally go?

Seven 2-year-old maidens will be in the spotlight at Golden Gate Fields in Wednesday's feature race.

Trainer Steve Specht again tries to get Coyote Moon to a race. The first foal of multiple stakes-placed She's an I Full by the unraced Game Plan, Coyote Moon was entered in a maiden race at Santa Rosa, then entered in the Cavonnier Juvenile Stakes. He passed on an Aug. 6 maiden race, which was won by highly regarded prospect Vicarino, then had to scratch from a stakes after coming down with a mild bug. He was entered at Golden Gate Fields a couple of weeks ago, only to be scratched at the gate.

Coyote Moon's works have been steady, and he has three solid six-furlong drills.

Coyote Moon will face tough competition from a pair of Hollendorfer trainees, Candy's Bro and Gold Label.

Candy's Bro, who will be ridden by Baze on Wednesday, was second to Babcock Lane in his debut Sept. 6. A $90,000 yearling purchase, he is from E Dubai's first crop. Gold Label is a half to multiple graded stakes winner Confide and was third in the Sept. 6 race last out.

Also in the field are Captain Crunk, a half to multiple stakes-winning Devoted Pirate; and Cayambe, a half to stakes-placed Momotombo who will make his first start.

14 nominees to Pacific Heights

Multiple stakes winner Somethinaboutlaura, who captured the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park two back after running third in the Grade 2 Milady, heads a field of 14 nominees for Saturday's $75,000 Pacific Heights for Cal-bred fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Somethinaboutlaura has won stakes on turf and dirt and seems head and shoulders above the other nominees.

Jill's Sky won the Moment to Buy over the Lakeside Turf Course at the distance last year.

* Trainer Jerry McArthur was fined $1,000 and suspended 60 days for a positive test for Acepromazine on Go On Orange following his first-place finish in the fifth race at Golden Gate Fields on Jan. 17, 2005. Acepromazine, a Class 2 drug that, considered a tranquilizer. McArthur will serve the suspension from Sept. 15 to Nov. 13.