09/27/2004 11:00PM

Dixie Thrill has edge in recency

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - The importance of having a recent race will be one of the factors handicappers must weigh in Thursday's Bay Meadows feature, a $25,000 claimer at 1 1/16 miles.

Dixie Thrill, who ran fourth against similar company on the turf in his last start, has recency in his corner.

Claimed at Del Mar by trainer Art Sherman, Dixie Thrill has earned $326,891 in a 64-race career. He has won only one race in 20 starts the past two years, though, and is winless this year, with three thirds in 10 starts. He has not had a recorded work since his fourth-place finish Sept. 17.

Although Dixie Thrill tired in that start, fading in the lane, he was game enough to pass one horse after he had been shuffled back to fifth in the stretch.

All but two of his six rivals Thursday have been on the sidelines for at least one month - two have been gone for more than one year - so that effort may have him on edge for his 10th career win.

The return to the main track could also be helpful - he is 0 for 6 in his career on the turf.

There is an intriguing X factor Thursday in the form of Fuego Maximo, an Argentine-bred who will make his first start in more than 13 months.

"He's worked good; he's coming back good," said George Luna, who exercises horses and assists Bill Delia, trainer of Fuego Maximo.

Fuego Maximo won his first start in the United States, an allowance race Feb. 15, 2003. He then went to the sideline for six months before running fourth in a tough $50,000 optional claimer on the turf.

"He's a nice horse, but he's had some problems," Delia said. "He got hurt in his last race, so this is a spot to see, off a long layoff, what we've got. I think the horse can be ready right off the bench. He proved that once."

Brite Bounty, who has not run since finishing third at this level July 24 at Solano, has had four straight bullet works. He appears the speed of the race. Of his 14 lifetime victories, six have come here.

Rounding out the field are the stakes-placed Winning Stripes; the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained entry of Dinan and Digniflite, who has been off for 14 months; and Nu Cat.