10/31/2006 1:00AM

Boboman rises class ladder


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Boboman finished third, then he finished third again. Jockey Alex Solis was not discouraged.

"We always thought he was a nice horse, but the races at Del Mar were too short," he said.

Besides, Boboman had been off 16 months. There was no rush for trainer Richard Mandella to crank him up, so Solis rode patiently in races where the speed stuck.

"They were going 21 and 44, and kept going," he said. "[Boboman] was always making up ground."

In his third start following a layoff, Boboman converted from deep closer to pace-presser. The change, according to Solis, was easily explained.

"The distance, definitely," he said. "Now, you're going a mile and a quarter with a slower pace, and he's laying right there."

Boboman pressed slow fractions in the first-condition allowance, broke open the race turning for home, and won by nearly five lengths while geared down.

"He's coming around," Solis said.

Thursday at Hollywood Park, Solis and Mandella will find out just how far Boboman has come when he moves up a notch into an $80,000 optional claimer at 1 1/4 miles on turf. It is race 7 on the card, and includes graded stakes-placed One Off, True Dancer, Like a Tiger, Bullistic, and Steal Your Thunder.

If he runs as well as last time, the 2-for-8 Boboman can win right back. Backing him, however, requires bettors to bend traditional handicapping principles. It is never easy for a turf horse to sail through the allowance ranks, and class analysts may side with One Off.

A 6-year-old gelding, One Off ran like a pacifist when he put up no fight last time against tougher at Del Mar. One Off broke slow and merely ran around the track to finish fourth in the Escondido Handicap. But he meets easier Thursday, and is likely to run his best race in his first start in three months for trainer Neil Drysdale.

In race 3, a third-level turf allowance for fillies and mares at 1o1/16 miles, front-runner Midwife will try to race gate to wire over four rivals. Midwife, a stakes-placed mare with a 5-for-21 record, faces a tepid pace scenario. Her four rivals - Grat, Toupie, Private Banking, and Conveyor's Angel - are closers.

In race 2, a maiden-40 starter for 2-year-old fillies, dropper High Cholesterol can spring an upset over high-figure comebacker Short Sentence, who posted a 77 Beyer Speed Figure in June. High Cholesterol was compromised by illness when she ran Aug. 30 in a Del Mar stakes, but has trained super for her return.