10/16/2006 11:00PM

Familiarity with track aids Party of Two


Perhaps the main variable in Thursday's Bay Meadows feature, a 5 1/2-furlong starter allowance for 2-year-old fillies, is the switch from Golden Gate Fields to Bay Meadows. All but one of the six runners graduated during the recent Golden Gate Fields meeting. The sixth, Party of Two, is the lone runner to have won - or even raced - here.

The race is open to maiden winners who have run for a tag at some point in their careers. Thursday's race features winners ranging from the $12,500 bottom maiden claiming level up to $32,000 maiden winners.

One difference between Golden Gate and Bay Meadows is that Bay Meadows has an indoor paddock. Trainer Gil Matos will saddle Ensign Moranski in the Thursday starter allowance, and he is hoping to head off any problems by schooling her in the paddock there Wednesday.

"She's pretty smart," he said. "I don't think it will be a problem."

The Golden Gate and Bay Meadows tracks have different compositions.

"The Golden Gate track's a lot tighter," said Doug Utley, who trains Party of Two. "You need a dead-fit horse when you go over to Bay Meadows. It seems the first time or two, some don't get a good hold of the Bay Meadows track."

Party of Two had no trouble in her debut here Aug. 11 during the Bay Meadows Fair, splitting rivals and surviving a late bumping incident to win by a head. She's drawn outside Thursday and is the lone runner who will want to sit back early.

The speed of the race appears to be Lovely Cape, a $20,000 maiden winner in her debut who drew the rail.

Debut winner Brought It and Wavy Lass both come into this off $12,500 maiden wins.

My Lacie Cat battled gamely to win her debut, then finished third, a neck behind Party of Two, in her first start against winners.

With all the speed in the race, the advantage may belong to Ensign Moranski, who has the highest Beyer in the field and rated just off the leaders down the backstretch in her debut, and the late-running Party of Two. Party of Two, whose lone poor start came against males, could offer value.