01/25/2005 1:00AM

Blinkers not option for 'Draft'


ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Steve Miyadi finds himself in a bit of a quandary going into Thursday's Golden Gate Fields feature.

It will be tough enough for his recently acquired First Draft to beat to beat six rivals in a $50,000 optional claimer at one mile on the turf.

But Miyadi believes the 5-year-old mare, who has earned $221,869 - the most in the field - might stand a better chance against the likes of Tricky Surf, Callmelauryn, Almond Blossom, Go Ask Daisy, Clickety Cat, and Jacobs Smile if she added blinkers. Because she is coming off a victory in a first-level allowance race, First Draft cannot make the change. Very rarely do stewards allow such an equipment change off a win.

"I expect her to win, but I really think she will when we add blinkers," said Miyadi, who won at a 38 percent clip last year and stands at 45 percent at the current meet.

Over the past 13 months, Miyadi has won with 5 of 9 starters when adding blinkers and is 2 for 2 with first-time blinkers. First Draft, who has 5 wins, 5 seconds, and 4 thirds in 31 lifetime starts, has never worn blinkers before.

won by a nose for Miyadi after being sent to him by his friend Mike Mitchell in Southern California. She made a strong four-wide move into the lane, opening up by a length and then hanging on over Marla Bay, who won a first-level allowance race here Sunday.

"She was kind of pulling herself up once she got the lead," Miyadi said. "She has to be ridden right. Dennis Carr did a good job with her last time and knows what to do."

Blinkers help keep a horse's mind focused and are often used to help get a horse into a race early. But Miyadi says they can also help runners such as First Draft, who tend to come from off the pace.

"They can trick them into going on with it," he said.

First Draft can ill afford not to finish well. Tricky Surf runs here instead of in Sunday's $100,000 Brown Bess Handicap. She has four straight wins in non-stakes competition, and won at this level two back. She and Clickety Cat are the only members of the field running for a tag.