10/13/2009 11:00PM

Victorina might not be a total lock


Friday's $50,000 Harvest Stakes at the Big Fresno Fair may not be the walkover it appears on paper.

Victorina will be an odds-on favorite in the field of five for the six-furlong dirt race for fillies and mares. Her 14 career victories - including 10 in stakes - match the combined career total of her four rivals, none of whom has appeared in a stakes before. Her career earnings of $694,168 surpass the total of her four rivals. And her eight wins at the distance are more than the combined total of her rivals.

End of story? Maybe not.

All four of Victorina's opponents have something to recommend them. Apache Annie, who has been meeting primarily mid-level claimers, is a perfect 3 for 3 at the distance. Northern Station has a win and a third for high-percentage trainer Steve Miyadi since being claimed at Santa Rosa on Aug. 6. Carmel Coffee, making her first start since getting caught in the final strides in a $100,000 optional claimer at Del Mar on July 25, looms the one to catch.

King City Kitty, just claimed for $40,000 at Fairplex on Sept. 23 by Bob Hess Jr., also has good speed and the advantage of the outside post.

As for Victorina, she has raced at a mile or farther for six straight races and will be sprinting for the first time since October 2008.

Victorina, 6, won the six-furlong Azalea at Calder as a 3-year-old and was primarily a sprinter early in her career.

"The group of routers in Northern California was so tough back then, with Hystericalady and Somethinaboutlaura, we sprinted her," said trainer Greg Gilchrist. "When they went away, we went to routes."

Victorina won the Campanile over the Golden Gate Tapeta in February, then was off for six months with an injury. She comes off a second in the Luther Burbank over the Santa Rosa turf in August, and a third in the Adoration over the Del Mar Polytrack on Sept. 7.

Her last sprint was a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Sen. Ken Maddy down the hillside turf course at Santa Anita.

With that in mind, Gilchrist doesn't expect Victorina to be close to the early pace on Friday.

"No doubt the routes will take some speed away from her," said Gilchrist. "I won't be surprised to see her far back early. We've just got to hope she can run them down."