12/27/2005 1:00AM

Can Eleanor Rose hold her lead?


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Eleanor Rose can take advantage of a Bay Meadows track that is playing well to speed when she runs in the Thursday feature, a $62,500 optional claimer for fillies and mares going one mile.

The strong Thursday card also includes a $40,000 claimer, a straight maiden event, and a $40,000 starter allowance for 3-year-olds.

Eleanor Rose faces five runners, including Eclipse Winner, to whom she has lost twice. But with the help of a speed-friendly track, Eleanor Rose could turn the tables in this spot.

Eleanor Rose lost to Eclipse Winner in her second start off a layoff over a soft turf course here in February. She opened up early, dug in when challenged in the lane, and just failed to hold off Eclipse Winner. Her other defeat to Eclipse Winner also came in the second start off a layoff, this time on the main track at Golden Gate Fields on Nov. 11. She again got the early lead and opened up in the lane, only to be hauled in late and lose by a half-length.

One knock on Eleanor Rose is that she may be challenged for the early lead.

Shadow of the Moon, stretching out after three sprints, showed stalking speed when she won her maiden at 1 1/16 miles. She has a bullet work since finishing fourth as the favorite in her last start.

Garden Whimsy, who trailed Eclipse Winner and Eleanor Rose in their last meeting, is another who has contending speed, although she was no pace match for Eleanor Rose last out.

Tense Wager, a stakes winner, and Gods Ear, who has eight career victories, will both be trying to rally, as will Eclipse Winner, who has worked regularly but hasn't raced in the 6 1/2 weeks since defeating Eleanor Rose.

Eleanor Rose has had three good works since that race and could be sharper than Eclipse Winner.

In another of the day's top races, seven 2-year-olds will compete at one mile in a $40,000 starter allowance. Two Trails comes off a sixth in a troubled try in the Bay Meadows Juvenile, but before that scored an impressive maiden victory on the turf.

A Lil' Alimony, second when odds-on against similar, is the one to beat in a $40,000 claimer for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs.