01/29/2002 12:00AM

Expect more from Unrestrained

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - There will certainly be enough angles to choose from for handicappers trying to decipher the puzzle that is Thursday's eighth race at Gulfstream Park.

The third-level allowance/optional claiming dirt race at 1 1/16 miles drew an evenly matched field of nine fillies and mares, five of whom are coming off layoffs of 30 days or more.

If you subscribe to the theory that a horse needs a race over the deep Gulfstream surface, then you will most likely focus on Unrestrained or the trio of horses coming out of the seventh race here on Jan. 13.

Unrestrained drops into allowance company after finishing seventh, beaten only 3 1/2 lengths in the Escena Stakes here on Jan. 11. In that race, her first in two months, Unrestrained broke from post 11, lingered behind a slow pace, was forced to make a five-wide move on the far turn, and tired. Thursday, Unrestrained breaks from an inside post, and is reunited with Eibar Coa, who was aboard for her win in the Summit Stakes at The Meadowlands on Oct. 6.

Sea Mist, Hidden Halo and Multiplicity finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively, under these same conditions here on Jan. 13, a race that was won emphatically by Gulch Legacy.

Sea Mist, trained by Manny Tortora, looks the most logical of the three. Sea Mist raced last behind slow early fractions, launched a four-wide bid to reach contention turning for home, but flattened out through the stretch and was beaten 5 1/2 lengths. She has a 2-1-1 record in four starts over the track and has recorded four of her six career wins at the distance. She is reunited with Rene Douglas, the jockey aboard for her four-length win in an optional claimer at Calder.

Multiplicity could hold a tactical edge as the controlling speed under John Velazquez.

The mystery horse is Medalha Milagrosa, a Kentucky-bred who makes her North American debut after running in Brazil last year. While in Brazil, Medalha Milagrosa won 3 of 6 starts, including a Group 2 stakes on turf. She hasn't been out since June 3, but trainer Patrick Byrne has a decent record with horses off a layoff and the filly shows two solid workouts over the main track. Pat Day rides.

Unbridled Waters returned from a two-month freshening to win a second-level allowance race here last January. Thursday, she makes her first start in six months for trainer John Kimmel. Unbridled Waters has tactical speed and has recorded two of her three wins at the distance.

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