11/26/2008 1:00AM

Forty Niner has speed to spare


ALBANY, Calif. - Even with the expected scratch of the quick Monterey Jazz from the race, Friday's $75,000 Forty Niner at Golden Gate Fields will have plenty of speed. That should give the multiple stakes winners Pass the Heat and Gallon every chance to win the Forty Niner, a race for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/16 miles on the Tapeta.

Monterey Jazz would have been a heavy favorite, but he was to be sent to Aqueduct to run in the Cigar Mile on Saturday. Holy Thunder and Running Rich should provide the speed in the Forty Niner. Trying to run them down late will be Pass the Heat and Gallon.

Gallon, a 3-year-old meeting older for the first time, could improve off his last start, his first since he won the Emerald Downs Derby on a disqualification seven weeks earlier.

Trained locally by Kay Cooper, Gallon finished fifth in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby on Breeders' Cup Day in his second start on turf.

"He really hadn't had an opportunity to work a lot on grass," said Cooper, who gave him a six-furlong turf drill before the race. "He needed to learn about the turf, but we were very pleased to have a horse worthy of running in that race."

Cooper considered two 3-year-old turf races at Hollywood Park for Gallon, Thursday's War Chant and Sunday's Hollywood Derby, but decided on the Forty Niner because of the horse's love of the Golden Gate Tapeta and the fact that he doesn't have to ship.

Gallon worked a half-mile in 47.40 seconds on Sunday, and he earned bullets for going six furlongs in 1:13.20 on Nov. 15 and five furlongs in 59 on Nov. 5.

Pass the Heat scored an impressive victory on the Tapeta here on Nov. 1 in a high-level allowance prep for the Forty Niner. That was his third victory in his last four races. He finished fourth in the California Cup Mile over the Santa Anita turf last month, and before that won a Del Mar optional claimer and the Joseph T. Grace at Santa Rosa.

Holy Thunder showed good speed in his last start, a maiden turf victory at Santa Anita on Sept. 25. Running Rich has won three straight here, two wire to wire and one as a stalker.