08/16/2001 11:00PM

Bay Meadows: Eyes on Gracious Prize

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Gracious Prize, who won a $25,000 starter allowance the last time he raced on the Bay Meadows turf course, rates as the one to beat when he goes in for a $25,000 tag in the grass feature at the San Mateo track Sunday.

The scheduled feature, the $40,000 San Matean Handicap, was cancelled when it received only four entries.

Gracious Prize was a $32,000 claim by trainer Dean Pederson last May 28. He finished fourth in that race, but returned instant dividends for owner Silverado Springs Stable when he won the $25,000 starter on June 17. On July 14, Pederson sent him to Hollywood Park, where he finished third in another $25,000 starter.

Pederson is placing the 6-year-old gelding aggressively Sunday, but the horse has already recouped a good percentage of his purchase price and the owner will come out well ahead if he wins and is claimed.

The main danger may be Clonmany, who is owned by the nation's leading owner of 2001 in both wins and purse money, Richard Englander, and is trained by northern California's leading trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer.

Clonmany has impeccable connections and lots of class, but his last three races have all been below par. His last race, a 10th-place finish at 2-1 in an allowance race at Santa Rosa, can probably be excused, as there is a good chance this turf specialist did not like the Santa Rosa main track. However, his two previous races on the grass down south in April and March were also disappointing. However, Clonmany can win if Hollendorfer has him set for one of his better efforts.

Horseshoe inspector under fire

A hearing was scheduled Aug. 18 to consider possible disciplinary action against Jack Hammonds, the track's horseshoe inspector. Steward Darrel McHargue said Hammonds refused to go to the paddock to replace a shoe on My Kind of Day, necessitating the late scratch of the horse. The 3-year-old, who is trained by Jeff Bonde, apparently hit his stall and lost the shoe after being saddled. According to Richard Lewis, director of racing operations for Bay Meadows, Hammonds said he believes it is unsafe to shoe a horse in the paddock. Lewis said management is also looking into the incident.