10/17/2005 11:00PM

Two fillies try to avoid trouble

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ARCADIA, Calif. - There is more to racing than luck, but that is small consolation for bettors who have wagered on the fillies Vikki's Honor or The Wages of Sin.

Those two are the principal starters in the seventh-race feature Thursday at Santa Anita, and the winner of the mile turf allowance could the filly who steers clear of trouble. Last out, neither did.

The Wages of Sin was steadied and lost momentum twice, losing by a half-length in a race she might have won with a clean trip.

"I don't know if she could have won," trainer Vladimir Cerin said. "I do know that she didn't."

Cerin was trying to be diplomatic. In fact, The Wages of Sin should have won clear in a race that was only her third career start. Freshened for two months, can win Thursday with a clean trip. Garrett Gomez, the leading rider at the Oak Tree meet, rides the 3-year-old filly.

The Wages of Sin will have to catch Vikki's Honor. A front-runner whose last-start third-place finish was better than it looks, Vikki's Honor can win if she avoids a pace duel that led to her defeat last out. Pressured through a breakneck pace, Vikki's Honor opened up in midstretch, but got collared late by two who rallied from last and next-to-last. She also blew a shoe in the race.

drew post 9, and her strategy is mandated by her post.

"I guess the plan is just go to the lead," trainer Adam Kitchingman said.

He is not giving away secrets. That is how Vikki's Honor runs - on the front end. When she clears, like she did one start back at Del Mar, she can be gone. If she gets hooked, she will lose.

There is one final uncertain factor about Vikki's Honor. This will be her first start on grass. No problem, according to Kitchingman.

"She worked fantastic on the grass the other day," he said. "She really seemed to like it."

If she runs well, Vikki's Honor will aim for the Moment to Buy, a $75,000 turf stakes restricted to 3-year-old fillies on Nov. 12 at Golden Gate Fields.

Javier Santiago rides Vikki's Honor, who has won 2 of 5.

Vikki's Honor's main pace foe is class dropper Smokegetenyoureyes. With the temporary rails at their outermost position of 30 feet, she could get brave.

Also in the field are Dance of the Year, Kalookan Lass, Ligacao Direta, Great Opinions, On London Time, Champagne Dream, and Madison Meadows.