02/18/2008 1:00AM

Brian the Bold to try new strategy


ARCADIA, Calif. - Riding three races aboard Brian the Bold, including a victory in a maiden race, has given jockey Garrett Gomez a strong opinion of the gelding's strengths and weaknesses.

Gomez hopes to use that expertise when Brian the Bold starts in an 1 1/8-mile optional claimer on the turf for California-breds at Santa Anita on Wednesday.

"His name fits him to a T," Gomez said. "He's a little headstrong. He's kind of a bull-headed guy."

In December at Hollywood Park, Brian the Bold rallied from ninth in a one-mile maiden race for statebreds, making up more than seven lengths in the final quarter-mile to win by a neck.

A 4-year-old gelding, Brian the Bold followed that race with a sixth-place finish in a first-condition allowance race against winners Jan. 3, a loss that did not discourage Gomez. Brian the Bold was last of 11 until the final half-mile and got within 4 3/4 lengths of the eventual winner.

"They thought the best chance was to let him make one solid run," Gomez said. "It worked once and it didn't work once. He's more versatile than that."

Gomez thinks Brian the Bold can be effective racing closer to the pace, a strategy likely to be employed in Wednesday's $57,000 race. The race has drawn a field of six, including likely pacesetters Super Harmony and Unusual Treasure.

With the temporary rails set 30 feet from the permanent position, Gomez does not want Brian the Bold too far back in early stretch. Closers can sometimes have a difficult time making up significant ground when the rails are moved out.

"You can't take a horse out of his game plan," Gomez said. "You may have to move a little sooner."

Asked if Brian the Bold can win, Gomez said, "If we can keep his mind in the game. You have to keep him focused to the task."

Trained by Paddy Gallagher for Super Horse Inc., Brian the Bold has 1 victory in 8 starts and earnings of $53,900. He has the second-highest earnings in the field behind General Bueno, a 5-year-old gelding who has won 2 of 17 starts and earned $90,060.

General Bueno is making his first start for owner B.J. Wright and trainer Michael Pender, who claimed him for $25,000 at Hollywood Park on Dec. 22.

Howard Zucker has two starters - Cinder Cone and Unusual Treasure. Cinder Cone was beaten a nose against a similar field in October.