02/03/2004 1:00AM

Arterburn sitting on ready


ALBANY, Calif. - Thursday starts what could be an exciting four days for trainer Lonnie Arterburn.

He runs the recently claimed After the Run in Thursday's Golden Gate Fields feature, a $40,000 claimer at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

On Friday, Lava Man, a much-improved 3-year-old who has won two straight on the turf, will meet Cal-bred rivals in a Santa Anita allowance race.

And over the weekend at Golden Gate Fields, Arterburn will start two of his best runners, Club Forty One in Saturday's Tanforan Handicap and Kilgowan in Sunday's Golden State Mile.

Arterburn claimed After the Run, a 7-year-old gelding, for $32,000 in his last start. After the Run has won 9 of 24 starts, but in five tries on turf he is winless with only one second. He is 5 for 8 with three thirds on wet surfaces, however, and after heavy early-week rains, Thursday's race may come off the turf.

"We really paid top dollar for him, but he runs on everything - turf, dirt, mud," Arterburn said of After the Run, whom he owns with Jeffrey Peppard. "He hasn't run that badly on the turf, but I'd just as soon the race come off the turf. There are a couple of turf specialists in there.

"He's doing good, and you have to put him in the spots that are available."

If the race stays on the turf, Love That Man - 2 for 2 since arriving here - seems the one to beat. He overcame trouble to win a $25,000 claimer and showed improvement as he stepped up to win by two lengths for $32,000.

Motel Staff, who has won three of his past four starts and has been claimed from his last three, will be tough on the lead. His one loss in his past four starts came to Love That Man.

Little Ghazi has been meeting better competition in Southern California. He should be sitting close to the pace and is a legitimate contender.

Adding depth to the race are Woody Haze, fourth when favored in his comeback; Court's in Session, a consistent check-earner; and Crooked Key. All are turf specialists who may drop out if the race is switched to the dirt.

Arterburn is hoping for a good run by Lava Man in Friday's Santa Anita allowance because it would give the horse additional options, including the Snow Chief down the road at Hollywood Park.

Club Forty One was assigned only 113 pounds in the Tanforan, a $75,000-added, 1 1/16-mile turf race.

Club Forty One has won three of his last four starts, all on this course.

"He's really improving, so it's worth a shot," Arterburn said. "If it comes off the turf, it's good for us, too. He's trained spectacularly in the mud, and his mud breeding's better than his turf breeding."

Kilgowan has two wins and a third from three starts. Both of his victories are at Sunday's one-mile distance.

"He's training well and should run well," Arterburn said. "I hope he keeps coming. We keep pushing him, and he hasn't failed yet."