04/18/2007 11:00PM

Will Vaca City Flyer find old self?


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Vaca City Flyer used her speed to capture six straight sprints in Northern California last year, including four stakes. But she changed styles in her 2007 debut, closing for fourth against males in the $100,000 California Sprint Championship on March 31.

Neither jockey Dennis Carr nor trainer Steve Sherman knows why Vaca City Flyer ran the way she did that day, but they expect her to run well in Saturday's $50,000-added Monterey Handicap at Bay Meadows.

Vaca City Flyer takes on seven rivals in Saturday's race, a five-furlong turf contest that she won on the front end in her turf debut last year.

Breaking from the rail in her 2007 debut, she was last entering the stretch before unleashing a strong kick.

"It was a role reversal," said Carr, who rode Vaca City Flyer in all her victories last year. "She broke okay, but halfway down the backstretch they were getting away from me. She usually breaks and keeps on trucking, so it surprised me."

Carr thinks Vaca City Flyer's newfound ability to rate could come in handy in the Monterey.

"The way she finished last time gives us options if they go gung-ho from the beginning," he said.

Steve Sherman, who handles Northern California operations for his father, Art, is still a little mystified by Vaca City Flyer's performance. He expects improvement Saturday, and thinks drawing post 6 for the race might help.

"Last year, she was usually laying close or on the lead in races," Sherman said. "Hopefully, it doesn't happen again where she gets so far back, but perhaps the inside post affected her.

"Perhaps the post position reversal will help," Sherman said.

If Sherman has his way, Vaca City Flyer will get a stalking spot the Monterey.

"At five furlongs, you don't like to be too cute," he said. "Before you know it, you're in the turn. But I always thought her best race was when she sat just off the leader."

Vaca City Flyer is drawn outside Stylish Wildcat, who has three wins and a second in turf sprints and won her 2007 debut here March 25. La Tormenta, who has flashed keen speed going down the hill at Santa Anita, has the outside post. La Tormenta also was entered in the Cactus Flower Handicap on Saturday at Turf Paradise.

Other contenders include the stalking types Just a Tizzy and Bid of Genius, as well as Calamity Girl.