10/30/2002 1:00AM

Century City has tip-top potential


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Will a new star be born when Century City makes his U.S. debut in Sunday's $100,000 Bay Meadows Derby for trainer Beau Greely?

Century City, a $2.2 million yearling at the Goffs Sale in Ireland in October 2000, was purchased in June by Tom Nichols and Greely's brother, John IV, for an undisclosed amount from Michael Tabor and Susan Magnier.

Century City won the Group 2 Goffs International Stakes at The Curragh in Ireland in his first start for his new owners on July 13. Brought to America, Century City was sent to Saratoga with plans to run him in the Travers, but he missed training time while quarantined, forcing Greely to revise his plans.

"We decided to let him settle in and acclimate," Greely said. "We were looking at the [Oct. 13] Oak Tree Derby or Bay Meadows Derby, and the timing was better for this race.

"He's really turned the corner the past month."

Five rivals, including Royal Gem from the Bobby Frankel stable, are expected to take on Century City, who will be the race's highweight at 122 pounds. Five others are still listed as possible for the 1 1/8-mile, Grade 3 turf race.

"We got lucky," Greely said, to purchase the son of Danzig out of 1994 Canadian horse of the year and champion filly Alywow. "He's very well bred, a beautiful horse. He's as big a Danzig as I've seen.

"I've done business with Coolmore before. Their game is 3-year-olds, and they had some good ones this year in Hawk Wing, High Chaparral, and Rock of Gilbraltar. We bought him with plans to race him at 3 and 4."

Greely looks forward to the colt's racing debut as does jockey Mike Smith, who has been working the colt.

"He's coming along really well," Smith said. "In his first works, he'd been off and was lazy, but his last three works he's had horses in front of him and exploded down the lane."

Greely agrees that Century City can be a bit on the lazy side, but said, "When you ask, he kicks it in. He's done extremely well."

Greely says the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby on Dec. 1 is his primary goal, but he expects good things Sunday.

"We've got high expectations," Greely said. "He's been working well, and we're excited by that and the company he's been with."

Smith is also anxious to ride the colt in a race.

"He's not going to be 100 percent," Smith said. "But he will be ready."

for Bay Meadows Fair entries.

:: Subscribers: to purchase past performances for Bay Meadows Fair.

:: Non-subscribers: to purchase past performances for Bay Meadows Fair.