10/25/2005 11:00PM

Count on 'Lover' to give best


ALBANY, Calif. - Clare Pears, who assists and gallops horses for trainer Jedd Josephson, believes she knows why Lover Marshal has become such a consistent runner for the barn - not that she'll share the information.

"That's our secret," she said.

has earned a paycheck in all seven starts since being claimed by Josephson for $16,000 last Jan. 15. He should make it 8 for 8 - and win his second straight race - in Friday's Golden Gate Fields feature, a $32,000 claimer at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

It won't be an easy assignment, however, with stakes winners Surprise Halo and Boss Ego in the field of six older runners. But no one in the field is as sharp as Lover Marshal, a 6-year-old gelding who has won 6 of 28 starts, including 4 of 14 on the turf.

"He likes a happy time, and we treat him as an individual," Pears said.

Although Lover Marshal has run well enough on dirt, Josephson recognizes he's better on the turf and has tried to keep him there.

"[Josephson] thinks it's preferable to run him on the grass," Pears said. "His feet are a bit sticky, so the softer surface seems better."

Another thing Josephson figured out is that Lover Marshal gives his all when he races, which is why, according to Pears, Josephson gives him time between races. Lover Marshal has been given six weeks since winning a first-level allowance race over the Bay Meadows turf. He has had four maintenance drills since, two at a half-mile and two at five furlongs.

, who ran third in the Tanforan Handicap and then second in the Grade 3 Golden Gate Breeders' Cup Handicap on turf in 2003, got his first win in two years this summer over the Bay Meadows turf course. In two starts since, he has finished third and fourth.

finished fifth off a seven-month layoff, but snapped back and won last time out. He is better on the dirt than the grass, but should get a great trip setting the pace from the rail.

Rounding out the field are Aziyan, who has four wins on turf; Bedmar, whose two wins have come on turf; and Full Gallop, making only his second turf start.

* Leading rider Russell Baze is in New York for his Breeders' Cup ride aboard Lost in the Fog. He will return Sunday.