05/23/2003 11:00PM

Exam time for this trio


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Monday's Grade 3, $100,000 Seabiscuit Handicap at Bay Meadows stands as a special test for three of the seven entrants.

For probable favorite and highweight Reba's Gold, the test is whether he can approach last year's form, when he won two stakes and placed third in a pair of Grade 2 races. For Free Corona, who has been running at Turf Paradise, the Seabiscuit is a class test. And for 3-year-old Tiz a Coup, the race is his first against older horses.

Reba's Gold hasn't raced since finishing ninth in the Japan Cup last November. Trainer Dan Hendricks has given the 6-year-old Reba's Gold plenty of time to recuperate.

"We had planned to give him a break because he had run hard all year," Hendricks said. "He went home to Creston Farm and was much quieter than usual. He took a month to get over the trip, but we weren't concerned. Why not give him an extra month or two?"

Hendricks believes the distance of the Seabiscuit, 1 1/16 miles around two turns, will actually be easier on his horse than another comeback spot he considered, the 7 1/2-furlong Ack Ack at Hollywood Park next Saturday.

Reba's Gold has won 7 of 29 starts and earned $511,922. Reba's Gold may end up stalking front-runner I'madrifter and maybe Truly a Judge and Metatron, but Hendricks won't be surprised if his horse is part of the pace picture.

"When he's fresh, you can sprint with this horse," he said. "When he's fresh like this, he could be right up in the heart of things. Last year, I kept him from being too geared up and in a route mode."

Free Corona has won 5 of 7 starts this year, all at Turf Paradise, and was disqualified from first to second once. He also ran sixth, beaten only three lengths by Century City, in the $150,000 Turf Paradise Breeders' Cup Handicap.

"He's a nice horse and coming into himself," trainer Kathy Schenk said. "Turf Paradise closed May 18, and I run at Emerald Downs in the summer, so this was on the way. We're going to be testing him a little, but this is the right time."

Tiz a Coup was third in the $250,000 Snow Chief at Hollywood in April in his stakes debut. He gets in at 110 pounds, a weight that apprentice Jose Luis Rivera can make. Rivera was aboard Tiz a Coup in his maiden win.

"I am adding Lasix for the first time because he bled minimally in the Snow Chief," trainer Allen Severinsen said.