06/04/2001 11:00PM

Catch Mariage Royale or lose at Bay Meadows


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Mariage Royale, who set the pace and finished fourth in the Round Table Handicap May 13, is the one to beat in the $32,000 allowance feature at a mile on the turf at Bay Meadows Thursday.

Mariage Royale, who will be coupled with Robaleur in a Walter Family Trust-trainer Armando Lage entry, has only run three times. After a third-place finish in his debut versus straight maidens Mar. 31 at Golden Gate, he won a six-furlong maiden race at Bay Meadows.

Off the maiden win, Lage put Mariage Royale in the Round Table. Even though he was jumping sharply in class and trying two turns and turf for the first time, he held on well, finishing only 3 1/4 lengths behind the winner, Imperial Measure. He also improved his Beyer Speed Figure, and so far, each of his Beyers has been better than the one before.

Lage prepped Mariage Royale for the Round Table with a pair of seven-furlong drills, and sent him out for another seven-furlong drill since, on May 27.

The main threat to Mariage Royale is Adjournment, who has been racing well in $62,500 to $80,000 claiming races on the grass in Southern California. On May 2, he was fourth but beaten only a length in an $80,000 claiming race, and the runnerup in that race, Times Square, subsequently finished second in the Round Table at Bay Meadows. However, Adjournment was 44-1 in that race and did not repeat the performance in his next start.

Matt Chew, Adjournment's trainer, is succeeding with his northern California shippers this meet, winning two races and finishing second three times in six starters.

Others to consider include Mariage Royale's entrymate, Robaleur, who recently returned from a six-month layoff and won a six-furlong maiden race impressively. Robaleur also may be better around two turns.

Aer Afrik deserves consideration since he has won four of his last five races while climbing the claiming ladder. On Thursday, he will step into allowance company for the first time and also make his turf debut.