01/27/2005 12:00AM

Crisantemo due for stronger finish


ALBANY, Calif. - If Crisantemo could sing the blues, he could put feeling into the lyrics, "If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all."

Twice, Crisantemo took a lead in the lane at Golden Gate Fields only to lose in the stretch run. He will get a chance to post his first victory in the United States in Saturday's feature race at Golden Gate Fields, a $50,000 optional claimer at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

"He's been useful for us in that category, but he hasn't had the best of luck," said his trainer, Dean Pederson.

A 7-year-old Chilean-bred, Crisan-temo has run three times at this level at the meet, earning an 83 Beyer in each start.

Some horses are trouble-prone, but Crisantemo seems more the victim of bad luck.

"The worst one was two back," Pederson said. "Last time, the winner was so much the best that even though [Crisantemo] had to steady a bit, I don't think it mattered. Sometimes you just get outrun and have to tip your hat to the winner."

In his second start off a layoff and first start for Pederson on Nov. 28, Crisantemo grabbed the lead in the lane but tired and finished fourth beaten 2 1/4 lengths

In his next start, on Dec. 19, he was sitting in perfect position but was boxed in and never got a chance to run the final quarter-mile.

Most recently, on Jan. 7, Crisantemo was blocked and had to steady as he entered the second turn. He got clear and got the lead in the stretch but, again, was passed late as he finished third.

"Hopefully, he's due for a good one," Pederson said.

Crisantemo has a strong six-furlong work since his last start.

"I wish I could tell you he was right on track after that work, but he's always been a pretty good work horse," Pederson said. "That was the frustrating part. He didn't deliver in the afternoon."

A Grade 2 winner in his native country, Crisantemo should have no trouble with the distance, having won at 1 3/8 miles.

He draws outside in a field of eight that includes Congressionalhonor, winner of the Bay Meadows Derby, and Talaris, the Bay Meadows Derby runner-up who won his maiden over the Lakeside Turf Course here.

The one to beat could be Gambler's Mark, who will be sitting well off the pace early before unleashing his closing run.

* Apprentice Freddy Fong Jr. ends a three-day suspension Saturday. Fong was suspended after Lucky Spike veered out sharply in the second race on Jan. 21.

* Ricky Endeavor, the first horse to race for new owner Matthew Rose, won her comeback race Thursday.