08/10/2004 11:00PM

Alphabetic, 'Jaybird' clash


SAN MATEO, Calif. - The quality of racing picks up at the Bay Meadows Fair on Friday, as five older sprinters meet in the day's feature, a six-furlong, $50,000 optional claimer.

Twentythreejaybird, who has been meeting the likes of El Dorado Shooter in recent starts and hasn't seen the lead he likes so much, looks as if he will be the one to catch in the tough sprint.

The race will mark the return of Alphabetic, who won 2 of 4 starts in 2003 but has been on the sidelines for more than a year since running fourth in the James Lyttle Memorial at Santa Rosa on Aug. 1, 2003.

"I'm happy to have him back. He's been training well," trainer Don Mills said.

Alphabetic had shin problems that sent him to the sidelines after the Lyttle. "We gave him some time off, but he should have been back sooner," Mills said.

Alphabetic suffered an abscess in a foot, which kept him from training for more than a month beginning in mid-May this year. He has worked solidly of late.

Alphabetic was nominated to the Ernest Finley Handicap, a Santa Rosa sprint, but passed because the field was a little tougher than Mills wanted him to face in his first start back.

He doesn't get a much easier spot Friday.

In addition to Twentythreejaybird, he will be meeting Geardown, who comes off a solid win at Santa Rosa; the ultra-consistent Attack Force; and Double Life.

Twentythreejaybird is the speed of the field, but Alphabetic did show speed sprinting last year, and Twentythreejaybird might have more pace pressure than it initially appears. If Twentythreejaybird wins the pace duel, he can win the race.

If Alphabetic applies pressure through the opening half, it could set things up for either Geardown or Attack Force, who will be sitting in stalking positions.

Geardown, the only horse in the field entered for the $50,000 tag, has the advantage of an outside draw. Attack Force beat him, however, when they met here in a May 23 allowance race.

In the co-feature, five 3-year-olds meet in a six-furlong $40,000 optional claimer. Coronado's Price and Scotchwater, both claimed at Del Mar, and Barricaded, also trained by Mills, enter the race off wins in their last starts.

* Race-caller John Lies, who made his first live calls at the recently concluded Sonoma County Fair meeting in Santa Rosa, will call the races at Ellis Park on Aug. 21-23. Lies called one race a day at Santa Rosa and did well. He will call all the races during his three-day stint at Ellis Park.