04/08/2005 12:00AM

Aly Bubba set for peak effort

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Aly Bubba has made a nice living despite rarely winning.

The 6-year-old Aly Bubba hasn't won a race since Jan. 18, 2003. He has won only 3 of 24 starts, but earned $192,705 with a series of solid races.

He should surpass the $200,000 mark in career earnings and score his first victory in more than two years in Sunday's Bay Meadows feature, an $80,000 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

was second, beaten a neck by Royal Gem, in the 2002 Bay Meadows Derby, and was third behind Vallarta and Ninebanks in the 2003 Pacifica Handicap. He was also second in last year's Tanforan Handicap, and then third in the Grade 3 Golden Gate Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Following a fourth-place finish last April in the Khaled Handicap for Cal-breds at Hollywood Park, where he was beaten only a length, Aly Bubba was off for 10 months.

At his best on the turf, Aly Bubba was a good third in the mud at this level in his comeback race, then showed improvement in the Crystal Water Handicap at Santa Anita last time out. He should be set for his best making his third start of his form cycle on Sunday. The race could be a springboard to the San Francisco Breeders' Cup Mile here on April 23 or a return to Hollywood for the Khaled.

Aly Bubba, who has had two solid works since last month's Crystal Water, should be able to sit behind Jerry Hollendorfer stablemates Symphony Sid and Starspell.

Hatif, overmatched in a pair of Grade 1's and a close fifth in the Grade 3 Carlton Burke at Santa Anita last fall, shortens up in a comeback from a layoff. He usually sits fairly close to the lead when going longer and should be a factor in the stretch here.

, a winner in his last start on Jan. 29, rounds out the field.

Old rivals Booming Along and Sharp Writer, both of whom are stakes-placed, meet again in the secondary feature, a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds.

Sharp Writer lost by a nose to Buzzards Bay in the Golden Gate Derby, while Booming Along was second to Dover Dere in the Gold Rush Stakes. When the two met in a Nov. 27 maiden race on the turf at Golden Gate Fields, Booming Along scored a wire-to-wire victory by three-quarters of a length over Sharp Writer.

Booming Along will have more pace pressure Sunday as he steps up off a victory in a $40,000 starter allowance, but he has never finished off the board in eight career starts.