07/15/2002 12:00AM

Future starts now for Geo Quercus

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - When Geo Quercus finished fifth in his United States debut in May, trainer Marty Jones was far from discouraged.

Instead, he focused on the future.

Geo Quercus returns on Wednesday in a $58,000 optional claimer over a mile on turf at Hollywood Park, a race that could serve as a prep for a minor stakes at Del Mar.

Wednesday's program is the start of the final week of the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting. Del Mar opens on July 24.

An Irish-bred, Geo Quercus began his career in France where he won 3 of 6 starts but was unsuccessful in one stakes appearance. On May 16 here, Geo Quercus was beaten three lengths by Riviera, the winner of the 2000 Atto Mile at Woodbine.

"It was a tough little race," Jones said. "He had a little trouble at the end and it might have cost him a placing or two. They weren't slowing down in the last part.

"I hope we can get him to win some races. They've got a lot of spots [at Del Mar] for these sort of horses."

Wednesday's race has drawn seven runners, and five can be claimed for $100,000. Geo Quercus and Proceed with Care, who will be a longshot, are not eligible to be claimed.

Several horses recently have attracted multiple claims, and it would not be a surprise to see a $100,000 claim submitted Wednesday.

The Bobby Frankel-trained entry of Marine and More Modern will go favored. Both are owned by Juddmonte Farms and began their career in England.

Marine won the Grade 3 La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar last summer, but has not started since finishing fourth in the Sir Beaufort Stakes at Santa Anita last December. Wednesday's race is the first time the 4-year-old Marine has appeared for a claiming price.

More Modern is a claiming veteran. Also a 4-year-old, More Modern has been second in two $80,000 claimers this year, losing by a length on April 14 at Santa Anita and on May 19 at Hollywood Park.

Irish Warrior will be well-supported. Trained by Wally Dollase he won an allowance race over a mile on turf on May 17 and returned to finish second to Most Likely in an optional claimer on June 19.

Irish Warrior makes his first start for a claiming price on Wednesday.

Most Likely was eligible to be claimed in his victory June 19 and returns on Wednesday.

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