07/04/2004 11:00PM

Aza's speed a good fit on surface

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PLEASANTON, Calif. - Three-year-olds with ability are always in high demand, even after the Triple Crown. Six interesting 3-year-olds meet in Wednesday's feature at the Alameda County Fair, a $40,000 optional claimer at a mile and 70 yards.

"You are always looking for a useful 3-year-old," said trainer Don Mills, who claimed Aza for $25,000 from a stakes victory two starts back.

With speed playing well here the first week, Aza seems a strong contender. He stalked the pace but had no rally when he met better at Hollywood Park in his first start for Mills.

"We tried him down south and maybe came back a little quick, but we thought it was a good spot there," Mills said. "We learned a little bit, but nothing major. He was stuck inside and didn't like getting dirt in his face, but he had nowhere to go."

Aza drew the rail here and should have no trouble gaining good position. He has the speed to get the lead but may settle just off My Creed, who breaks from post 5 and also has speed.

One runner who wants no part of a pace battle is Tacky, a nice prospect who has run once since a try in the El Camino Real Derby.

Trainer Chuck Peery has always liked Tacky, but Peery took a step back after a ninth-place finish in the El Camino Real.

Tacky returned in a tough sprint at Bay Meadows on June 9 against Jet West, Jeffries Bay, and Lunar Lion. Although he ran fourth and was beaten by 6 1/2 lengths, Tacky did close ground in the lane.

"I hope he's ready here," Peery said. "He had a sprint prep. He got what he needed out of the race."

Peery said he knows that the way the track has been playing goes against Tacky's style, but he doesn't want regular rider Macario Rodriquez to change anything.

"I'm not worried about [the possible speed bias]," Peery said. "This horse has his style, one late run. I'm not going to try to do anything differently."

Baze serving three-day suspension

Russell Baze is not riding Wednesday or Thursday as he serves the final two days of a three-day suspension for his ride aboard Short Cut, who was disqualified from first place last Thursday.

Baze had one mount Monday, Gonetorule in the Alameda Fillies and Mares Handicap. Baze was allowed to ride because it was a designated race.