05/03/2007 11:00PM

Cutbacks, layoffs muddle Golden Bear

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ALBANY, Calif. - Super Image and Double Action have both earned black type, but both also have tried racing long and were found to be wanting.

So both will be back sprinting Sunday in the $50,000-added Golden Bear, a six-furlong stakes at Golden Gate Fields.

"We think he's strictly a sprint horse," trainer Lloyd Mason said of Super Image, who reeled off three straight wins as a 2-year-old, including the Cavonnier Juvenile Stakes at Santa Rosa.

Super Image faded badly in three stakes tries at seven furlongs or more at Santa Anita. And after running third in a 7 1/2-furlong turf race at Bay Meadows in his last start, he will stick to sprinting for a while.

Janet Hollendorfer, the wife and No. 1 assistant of leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, said that the same holds true for Double Action.

Double Action won his debut in November, then ran third behind Vicarino and stablemate Candy's Bro in the six-furlong Stinson Beach at Golden Gate on New Year's Day. He set the pace before stopping in the California Derby and faded late in the San Pedro at Santa Anita after 10 weeks on the sidelines.

While both Super Image and Double Action will be at their best game, comebackers Direct Exposure and Mr. Negotiator figure to provide stiff challenges.

Direct Exposure makes his first start since a five-length maiden victory at Pleasanton 10 months ago. He left Super Image's talented stablemate Pacific Heat in the dust that day while earning a 97 Beyer Speed Figure

"He broke his maiden like a champ," said trainer Jeff Bonde.

A $75,000 Barretts purchase, Direct Exposure attracted plenty of attention after that race and was about to be sold when a second veterinary examination turned up a growth on his throat, quashing the deal.

Bonde decided to give the colt extra time after surgery to remove the growth, and he has worked quite well for his comeback, including strong six-furlong works at Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields. He blew out with a 35-second-flat three-furlong gate drill Tuesday.

Mr. Negotiator, who makes his first start for trainer Steve Miyadi, has turned in a strong series of drills for his first start since a fourth in the Sunny Slope at Oak Tree last Oct. 22.

"He's not a speed horse, so we try to make him finish in his drills," Miyadi said. "He needs the race to line up for him, but if it does, he could be tough."

There seems to be enough speed to set up Mr. Negotiator, with Direct Exposure and Super Image possibly dueling up front and Double Action and Focusonthefinish in stalking roles.