02/23/2007 1:00AM

Cry Me No River difficult to predict


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Sunday's Bay Meadows feature race, a $40,000 starter allowance for 3-year-olds at 5 1/2 furlongs, may answer some questions for trainer Ed Moger Jr.

Is Cry Me No River the monster that graduated by seven lengths in his 3-year-old debut? Or is he merely a runner that happened to freak before settling back to his normal level?

In three starts as a 2-year-old, Cry Me No River finished third in his debut and second in his other two starts, including a runner-up effort at 5 1/2 furlongs to one of Sunday's rivals, Redman.

Given a two-month break, Cry Me No River, who had run for a tag in all three starts as a 2-year-old, returned in a straight maiden race on Jan. 18 at Golden Gate Fields. He grabbed a quick lead, rated nicely, and pulled away to win by seven over Natashas Excess, who won his next start.

Because he had run for a tag, Cry Me No River was eligible to run in a claim-proof starter allowance race in his next start, on Feb. 9 at Golden Gate Fields. He sat close to the early pace, racing four wide on the turn, but when the real running began he gave way, falling back to finish eighth of nine.

It was a major regression, but Moger thinks he can explain it. The race was run on a sloppy track.

"It didn't look like he handled the track," Moger said.

If that's the case, breeding could explain the poor race. Neither Cry Me No River's sire, Fine n' Majestic, nor dam, River of Tears, did much on wet tracks.

The track will likely be wet again Sunday. Moger is willing to give Cry Me No River another chance if for no other reason than to be assured that the gelding shouldn't race on a wet track again.

"He is growing up, but he's still a little bit of a handful," Moger said of Cry Me No River, a homebred gelding of his principal clients Curt and Lila Lanning.

Among others in the race, Redman is a "tough horse," Moger said, "and he's already beaten us."

I'm Storming, bred for wet tracks and sprinting, also looks tough after a much-improved maiden win in his second start. He has speed similar to Cry Me No River's and is drawn outside him.