12/13/2007 12:00AM

El Gato Malo lures Valenzuela north

EmailALBANY, Calif. - El Gato Malo impressed more than just trainer Craig Dollase in his debut.

Following his 5 1/2-length victory in a six-furlong maiden race Nov. 18 at Hollywood Park, jockey Patrick Valenzuela said that he would go anywhere to ride the 2-year-old gelding.

Valenzuela will come to Golden Gate Fields on Saturday with El Gato Malo for the $75,000 Gold Rush Stakes at one mile. He drew the No. 4 post in the field of 10.

"We've got high expectations," Dollase said. "We'll do the two-turn thing against winners, but he's acted as if he wants to route for a long time. He's got a lot of talent. The timing is right as we look ahead to next year and some January stakes races at Santa Anita."

Dollase is not surprised by El Gato Malo's successful debut. He's a full brother to Cotton Bay, who won her debut and then ran third in the Moccasin Stakes as a 2-year-old, and to One Good Yank, who won his debut as a 2-year-old last year.

Dollase was more impressed by the way El Gato Malo won than by the fact that he earned an 89 Beyer Speed Figure, 10 points higher than the next best Beyer in the field, which belongs to multiple stakes-winning Run Brother Ron.

"He broke a little slow, but made the ground up in three or four jumps," Dollase said.

El Gato Malo got bumped nearing the three-eighths pole but kept to his business, getting the lead at the quarter pole and pulling away through the lane. "He's a tryer," Dollase said.

When El Gato Malo shipped north, he moved into trainer Jeff Bonde's barn, which houses El Gato Malo's main competition: Run Brother Ron and Deputy Bertrando.

Run Brother Ron has a pair of bullets in his past two works, and his five-furlong drill in 59.60 seconds on Dec. 7 was "as good as a horse could work," according to Bonde.

Bonde said the rest of the field will have to catch Run Brother Ron.

"My horse will be on the lead," Bonde said. "We've tried a few things that didn't seem to work. We won't take hold of him any more. My other horse [Deputy Bertrando] will wait and close. The farther distance will help him."

The distance also should fit Cafe Tortoni. He was second in the WTBA Lads at one mile this summer and third in the Real Quiet at Hollywood Park in his last start, Nov. 18.