05/18/2002 12:00AM

Bay Meadows: Peu a Peu sets record


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Peu a Peu ($7.40) sat off a slow pace set by entrymate Polaire and rallied to defeat defending champion Janet by two lengths and break a 23-year-old course record in the Grade 3 Yerba Buena Breeders' Cup Handicap Saturday at Bay Meadows.

The German-bred Peu a Peu, making her United States debut for trainer Bobby Frankel, set a Longden Turf Course record of 2:16.39 for the 1 3/8-mile race, breaking the record of 2:16.40 set by Golden Doc Ray on Oct. 6, 1979.

Polaire set slow fractions of 25.89 seconds, 50.76, and 1:15.74, as Peu a Peu was last early in the field of six.

"I talked to Bobby, and he said to get her comfortable," winning jockey Russell Baze said. "He said when I let her go she had a good turn of foot. She was easy to do anything with."

Baze was "a little concerned" about the slow pace, "but there was nothing I could do about that."

Baze got rolling at the three-eighths pole, splitting horses and moving three-wide into the lane. Peu a Peu had little trouble rolling past Janet and Polaire for the win.

Janet finished a nose in front of Racene, who closed well. Racene edged Polaire by a head for third.

"They sent her to Bobby at the end of last year," Frankel's assistant Humberto Ascanio said. "Bobby took his time, like he does with all European horses. He put some weight on her, then started her back.

"Before he went to New York [to prepare Medaglia d'Oro for the Preakness], he told me he was really confident."

Peu a Peu earned $55,000 to lift her career earnings to $85,887 for owner Gary Tanaka.