07/14/2005 12:00AM

Yerevan Star to face tests early and late


VALLEJO, Calif. - This is where it all began for Yerevan Star and where it might all begin for Mahalo.

made her stakes debut at the Solano County Fair last year, winning the Fairfield Stakes. She'll be the one that Mahalo has to beat Saturday as Mahalo makes her stakes debut in the $50,000 Vacaville Handicap for fillies and mares at six furlongs.

Since the Fairfield last year, Yerevan Star has added thirds in the Richmond and Woodside handicaps and a victory in the Camila Urso in her last start.

Although she'll be facing of plenty of speed in the Vacaville, and has only two works in the seven weeks since the Camila Urso, Yerevan Star will be tough.

"I usually don't work her that much," trainer Gloria Haley said. "She's the type that seems to get more out of her gallops, so I've gone back to the drawing board and am approaching it like last year."

The Vacaville has always been one of Yerevan Star's primary goals, although Haley did consider heading south from her Golden Gate base to run.

"The tracks are so nice on the fair circuit that I'm not worried about running here," Haley said. "It's close by, and she obviously liked the track last year."

Yerevan Star has shown she is quick enough to lead wire-to-wire through fractions of 21.03 and 43.39 seconds, yet game enough to sit third in a three-way pace duel and win.

She'll probably have to battle early with , Five Star Meeting, and possibly Stressless, if Stressless draws in off the also-eligible list.

Her real challenges will come late from multiple stakes winner , a stablemate of Storminbayoubabe, and Mahalo.

Mahalo, who has won 4 of 8 career starts and has yet to finish off the board, won a $62,500 optional claimer in her last start.

"This is a tough spot to get black type," said her trainer, Art Sherman.

"Everything is a go. If she gets the right scenario, she can be very tough. My filly likes to lay right off the pace, and it looks like she'll get that kind of trip."

Our Mango also prefers a stalking trip, which led to her victories in the Elie Destruel at Santa Rosa and the Cal Cup Distaff last year. She'll get an ideal pace scenario to run at, but then she was no match for Yerevan Star with a similar setup in her last start.

Our Mango is the lone runner in the field beside Yerevan Star with a victory over the track.