05/16/2002 12:00AM

Vienna hoping for a repeat

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Trainer Darrell Vienna wouldn't be surprised if Saturday's running of the $150,000 Yerba Buena Breeders' Cup Handicap at Bay Meadows winds up a lot like last year's race.

He wouldn't mind seeing the finish come up just as it did last year when his Janet took the lead midway through the race and defeated odds-on favorite Keemoon by three-quarters of a length.

The two head the field for Saturday's 1 3/8-mile turf race. Nepenthe, Polaire, Peu a Peu, and Racene were also expected to enter.

Janet is closing in on millionaire status but won't be able to reach that figure Saturday. Because she's not Breeders' Cup nominated, she's running for only $100,000 and can earn $55,000 with a victory. She has career earnings of $931,737.

Janet won the Grade 3 Brown Bess at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 2 but ran a disappointing seventh in the Grade 2 Santa Ana Handicap in her last start on March 23 at Santa Anita.

"I try to forget those races," he said when asked about the loss.

"She just didn't kick. That's happened before. She usually runs very consistently. She's worked very well for this," Vienna said.

Keemoon was given a 5 1/2-month break after finishing 11th in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor at Woodbine last September. She finished second by a nose in the Grade 2, 1 1/2-mile San Luis Rey Handicap in her comeback at Santa Anita on March 18. She was beaten by 11 lengths in the Grade 1, 1 3/4-mile San Juan Capistrano in her last start at Santa Anita. Both races this season came against males.

"That's just the way it came up," trainer Neil Drysdale said. "She ran very well in the San Luis Rey. In the San Juan Capistrano, it was just too far. She gave every indication, she'd go that distance, but she made liars out of us."

Drysdale said Keemoon was freshened because the race at Woodbine was "too bad to be true" and that she needed a rest after making several long trips during the year.

Keemoon is a distance lover, while Janet has run well at 1 1/16 and 1 1/8 miles as well as longer. The rest of the field provides intrigue.

Racene, moved to the turf two starts ago, has a first and second in a pair of 1 1/4-mile races. Nepenthe has won at 1 1/2 miles.

Polaire set the pace before finishing third in the Grade 2 Santa Barbara Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on the turf in her last start at Santa Anita. Peu a Peu, who makes her U.S. debut, showed an affinity for distance during her European career.

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