10/16/2003 11:00PM

Distance, class the questions


SAN MATEO, Calif. - No matter what credentials a 2-year-old brings into a stakes race, there are always questions to be answered.

There are three stakes winners among the six 2-year-olds entered in Sunday's $60,000 Bay Meadows Juvenile Stakes, but their connections are still learning about them.

For Hajji's Honor, who won the six-furlong San Mateo Stakes in his last start, the question is Sunday's one-mile distance. Although it's likely he will thrive on the two turns, he has yet to negotiate the distance.

Skipaslew was claimed from a $50,000 maiden race, graduated for a $62,500 tag, and is coming off a victory in the 1 1/16-mile Gateway to Glory Stakes at Fairplex Park.

Corvallis Dee just won the $100,000 Gottstein Futurity at Emerald Downs at 1 1/16 miles.

"Every time you run, you find out something new," said Bud Klokstad, who trains Corvallis Dee and has also trained six other Gottstein winners. "The horses here may be better than the ones he met up there. Right now, he hasn't run much so this is a chance to prove himself."

Corvallis Dee made his debut in a $25,000 claimer, and was fourth in the WTBA Lads Stakes at one mile in his second start, but "got stopped the whole way," according to Klokstad.

He came back from that loss to easily win the Gottstein by 1 1/2 lengths despite running wide.

Owner-breeder Stan Hodge's Hajji's Treasure won the California Derby and ran in the Preakness in 1985. Hodge is anxious to see what Hajji's Honor does racing around two turns for the first time Sunday.

"He tries so hard it's scary," Hodge said. "He's professional. He has a good head. We have one at Santa Anita with more talent, but he doesn't have the same head."

Both Corvallis Dee and Hajji's Honor come from off the pace, a perfect style for a horse stretching out for the first time.

Klokstad will also start Market Report, who just won his maiden in wire-to-wire style here after trailing Corvallis Dee in the WTBA Lads Stakes. Market Report is the speed of the race and will likely try to steal it on the front end.

- Daily Racing Form chairman and publisher Steven Crist will be at Bay Meadows on Sunday to sign copies of his new book, "Betting on Myself." Crist will also analyze the Breeders' Cup races at an 11 a.m. handicapping seminar at the Sports Bar.