10/13/2005 11:00PM

'Charlie' back for more


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Will closing day at Bay Meadows mark the end of a big week for Steppin Charlie?

A 5-year-old gelding, Steppin Charlie won the third leg of the California Marketing Starter Allowance series at 1 3/8 miles Monday. On Sunday, he'll bid for a repeat at the distance against eight rivals in the closing-day feature, a $25,000 optional claimer.

His trainer, Alex Paszkeicz, does not usually bring his runners back this quickly; he is 1 for 7 when returning in one week.

Steppin Charlie sat far off the pace on Monday and made a strong run in the lane, outfinishing Taco Willy in a starter race for those who had run for a $6,250 tag. Steppin Charlie may find it easier to bounce back from a race at a marathon distance, with its slower pace, than from a shorter race that has a faster pace.

While Sunday's race is a step up, the competition should be only a little tougher. A first-level allowance with the optional claiming tag, it brings together an interesting mix, as many allowance races this time of year do. The field includes Priest River, who has won six times, and Constantly the Man and Dynout, who each has only a maiden victory.

Dynout has never run for a tag in four career starts. He graduated in his last start after he came north off a three-month layoff. He broke a bit slowly and sat off the pace down the backstretch. Dynout moved up on the second turn and ran into traffic problems. Blocked behind horses and forced to wait for room, he closed nicely after angling out.

If there is a question about Steppin Charlie's quick turnaround, there is also a question about Dynout stretching out from 7 1/2 furlongs and having to run almost an additional half-mile here.

Often a maiden winner has trouble repeating against winners. An indication about whether Dynout can do that should come in another race Sunday, a maiden turf race. That race includes Madera Moon and Mago Ilusion, who were second and third behind Dynout last time. If they run well, Dynout's chances would seem to improve.

Priest River ran third in his only try at the 1 3/8-mile distance, finishing a nose ahead of Steppin Charlie at the same level at Golden Gate Fields last spring.

Eager Pharisien comes into the race off a starter allowance victory, and Light Duty, who beat Eager Pharisien two back, has won 2 of his past 3 starts.