09/23/2004 12:00AM

Entrymates fight for top spot


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Bettors should get plenty of run for their money in Saturday's wide-open $55,000-added Hillsborough Handicap at Bay Meadows.

Seven fillies and mares were entered in the 1 1/16-mile turf race, including the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained entry of Marwood and Cat Alert. The pair ran one-two in the one-mile Autumn Leaves over the course and should be favored Saturday.

Hollendorfer runners have finished one-two in five stakes since the spring meet at Bay Meadows. Marwood, who has won three straight stakes, has been involved in two of those races and was also part of a one-two-three Hollendorfer finish in the Luther Burbank Handicap at Santa Rosa, in which she was placed first in front of stablemate Hippogator. Another stablemate, Gonetorule, ran third.

Marwood beat Cat Alert by three lengths in the Autumn Leaves. Cat Alert, who had been off for two months, encountered some traffic problems in the stretch.

"She got a little tired late, and it didn't help when she got stopped," said jockey Russell Baze of Cat Alert's try in the Autumn Leaves. "I'm sure she'll move forward off that race. The only thing that might hurt is we might have to try to keep some pressure on A B Noodle early."

Ron Warren Jr., Marwood's regular rider, will be aboard Saturday, and Baze has the call again on Cat Alert.

Cat Alert seems quicker than her entrymate, although Marwood does have stalking speed.

"She's really come on," Warren said. "I could have her close, but it seems when I take her back, it gives another dimension to her."

The pair will have to catch A B Noodle, who cut a very fast pace while making her first start in three months in the Autumn Leaves. She faded to fourth that day behind Sea Jewel, who will also run Saturday.

"She was just too fresh," said jockey Roberto Gonzalez of A B Noodle. "She didn't break good, so I let her go to the lead. I took hold of her, but she grabbed the bit and kept going. She just got tired late."

With a race under her belt, two bullet drills since and little pace competition, A B Noodle may not be caught in the Hillsborough.

Conspiring may be the top invader. Uraib and Petionville Indeed round out the field.