11/01/2002 1:00AM

Century City brings top resume


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Great things are expected of Century City, who will make his U.S. debut in Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000 Bay Meadows Derby. Perhaps best known for his strong second-place finish to Rock of Gibraltar in the Irish 2000 Guineas in May, Century City won both the Group 3 Tetrach Stakes and Group 2 Goffs International in Ireland earlier this year.

A $2.2 million yearling purchase, Century City was resold by Michael Tabor and Susan Magnier this summer to Tom Nichols and John Greely IV, for whom he won the Goffs.

"We've got high expectations," trainer Beau Greely freely admits.

Sunday, Century City will be ridden by Mike Smith at highweight of 122 pounds.

Although Century City is the only graded stakes winner in the field, seven rivals, including four local colts, are ready to take a shot at him in the 1 1/8-mile turf race.

Royal Gem, trained by Bobby Frankel, won the Academy Road Stakes at Santa Anita in his second career start on March 14. He returned from a nearly six-month layoff and finished sixth in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby on Oct. 13.

"He got bumped pretty hard at the start," said Frankel's assistant, Humberto Ascanio. "It was his first race off a layoff, and he got a little tired. I think he'll run a good race Sunday."

Northern California's leading trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, will send out Surprized, who won a pair of stakes as a 2-year-old and most recently finished sixth against older in the Sept. 2 California Turf Championship and third when he made a belated rally in the Sept. 22 Half Moon Bay Handicap.

Hollendorfer understands what he may be up against, but he also figures Century City may be more vulnerable first time out than after he has a race.

"I don't do too much ducking if I have a horse that's ready to run," Hollendorfer said.

Trainer Gil Matos, whose Blue Slew's Shoes was disqualified from a win in an allowance race on Sept. 21, also is willing to take a shot.

"Blue Slew's Shoes has had some bad luck in his last four races," Matos said. "I have to give him a shot."

Trainer Art Sherman will send out Runaway Dancer, who has finished first in his past two starts over the course, although he was disqualified from a Sept. 11 victory.

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