03/05/2008 1:00AM

Current form meets past glory


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Handicappers must answer a key question in Friday's Bay Meadows feature. Do they go with one of the "now" horses, or do they go with the comebacker who could be the best horse?

The two sharp horses in the six-furlong first-level allowance race are Spoils of Excess and Crayon Red.

Spoils of Excess comes north from Southern California, where he ran second and third in a pair of $50,000 claimers following a seven-week layoff. He earned a career-best 92 Beyer Speed Figure in his last start, on Feb.o15 in a 6 1/2-furlong turf race, and a 91 in a 6 1/2-furlong main-track race before that.

Crayon Red steps up off a solid two-length victory in a $40,000 starter allowance race on a sloppy track here on Feb. 24.

Among their five opponents is Magnificent Blend, who could be the best horse in the field but hasn't run since last spring. Trained by Steve Specht, Magnificent Blend won his debut by 5 1/2 lengths on Dec. 31, 2006. He did not race again for nearly five months, when he ran second to Redman in a first-level allowance race May 27.

Nine months later, he's ready to go again. Magnificent Blend upped his training for this race with a pair of bullet drills at Golden Gate Fields.

A Daniel O'Neill homebred, Magnificent Blend is a quality runner and has run well fresh in both starts, but is he ready for Spoils of Excess and Crayon Red?

"I think he's fit enough," Specht said before adding a qualifier. "I would like to have had someone to work him with. Fast works don't mean fitness. I'd like to have him working with someone and come back breathing hard."

Specht, nonetheless, feels good about Magnificent Blend's chances.

"He tries all the time," said Specht.

Specht noted Magnificent Blend's versatility. He won his maiden in wire-to-wire style and rallied from off the pace in his second start.

"He can go either way, on the lead or off the pace," Specht said. "That gives him an advantage because he doesn't have to have things go exactly his way to be successful."

San Miguel King, a stalker, has run third in his last two tries at Friday's level.

Master Helmsman makes his third start off a layoff, having run a troubled fourth last time, moved up to third on a disqualification.

Tribal Trouble and Funny Papers both come in off poor tries.