01/08/2009 12:00AM

Ultra Blend has exceeded expectations

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Trainer Steve Sherman is surprised at how good a racehorse Ultra Blend has become. He won't be surprised if she wins the $75,000 Tiburon Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday.

All six 3-year-old fillies in the six-furlong race are making their stakes debuts.

Ultra Blend has won three straight starts, including two allowance races, since running second in her debut in a $25,000 maiden claimer at Stockton on Sept. 11. Although she led from gate to wire in two wins, Ultra Blend is not speed crazy, said Sherman.

Sherman admits he wasn't that high on Ultra Blend before her debut.

"I didn't think that she'd be this good," he said. "When she was working, she never showed that she'd be an allowance filly."

That's because Ultra Blend is "very nonchalant," he said.

Ultra Blend did catch Sherman's eye in her debut.

"I wasn't gung ho to ship to Stockton, but she'd missed her first race because she got sick," Sherman said. "There were a couple decent horses from Los Angeles in that race, and she showed a little something."

She moved up to a $32,000 maiden claimer, winning by six. One of her Saturday rivals, Point of Reference ran third that day.

A California-bred, Ultra Blend scored a 10-length victory in an entry-level optional claimer at Golden Gate in November, then beat a stronger field at the same level by three-quarters of a length here in her last start Dec. 5.

On Saturday, Ultra Blend drew the outside post.

"I hope she's ready," Sherman said. "She's training really good. She's a professional. To beat her, you're going to have to be running."

Two Jerry Hollendorfer-trained runners that have been pace factors in graded stakes could provide the toughest competition to Ultra Blend.

Maiden winner Pretty Katherine set a pressured pace and faded to seventh in the Grade 3 Miesque on the turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 28. Montana Fields scored an allowance win here on Oct. 24 and then finished 10th in the Moccasin at Hollywood.

Joe'sgirlisgolden and Gold Goddess, both of whom have two victories, round out the field.

Portland jockeys prevail

Portland Meadows riders finished one-two-three to collect $10,000 in Wednesday's four-race Jockey Challenge against Golden Gate riders at the Portland track.

Debbie Hoonan-Trujillo scored one victory and had a pair of seconds to win the event. Javier Matias, who had a first, second, and third from his four mounts, was second, with David Lopez, a late replacement for the injured Joe Crispin, third with one victory.

Russell Baze, representing Golden Gate, also scored a victory.