05/23/2006 12:00AM

A fresh Gold Bridle hard to catch


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Away from the races for eight months, Gold Bridle faces a tough task in race 6 Thursday at Hollywood Park. Or does he?

"He's training very well, and we've got [Patrick] Valenzuela," trainer Doug O'Neill said.

meets six others in the entry-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles, and there is more to like than works and jockey. Gold Bridle might be the speed of the field, and if he steals away from distance-challenged Courtnall, Gold Bridle could be gone.

The best effort of Gold Bridle's eight-start career was one year ago at Hollywood, when he pressed a hot pace and finished second. A subsequent turf experiment resulted in a sixth-place finish, followed by two nondescript efforts on dirt. Gold Bridle has been sidelined since September.

Beyond his trainer's enthusiasm, Gold Bridle is not facing any world-beaters. Wise One romped in a strong maiden race one year ago, but trainer Vladimir Cerin expects Wise One to need the start on Thursday. Stretch-runner Go Coyote Joe returns for hot trainer Mike Puype, whose first 15 starters this meet have produced nine one-two finishes.

, and closers Top This and That and Lil Mitch.

Race 7 on Thursday is an entry-level allowance for 3-year-olds at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf, and the leading contenders are in the two inside posts. Ten Downing Street breaks from post 1, and figures to have an easier trip than his last start.

Racing in a $67,000 stakes race, Ten Downing Street was hounded through wicked splits (21.30 and 43.66 seconds) in a race where he and pace rival Blaze It were four lengths clear of the field after a half-mile. Blaze It cracked; Ten Downing Street did not tire until late and still held third.

Dropping in class Thursday, Ten Downing Street could be gone. Get Funky (post 2) was claimed by John Sadler for $62,500 off a sharp maiden win and has been training super for his first against winners. Get Funky overcame a rocky trip - he was shuffled back on the inside - to win the maiden race by nearly three lengths with an 85 Beyer, and he can score the upset with further improvement.