12/10/2007 1:00AM

Gold Rush among Sierra Sunset's options

EmailALBANY, Calif. - Two-year-olds remain in the Golden Gate Fields spotlight this week with 21 nominated to Saturday's $75,000 Gold Rush Stakes at one mile.

Juvenile fillies were spotlighted last weekend with La Mina capturing the $75,000 Corte Madera Stakes, also at one mile.

Among the nominees to the Gold Rush are multiple stakes winners Sierra Sunset and Run Brother Ron for trainer Jeff Bonde, who also nominated multiple stakes-placed Deputy Bertrando, stakes-placed Orientate Me, and Bradford Falls.

Bonde and Sierra Sunset's owners are still hashing out the option of running Sierra Sunset, winner of the Bay Meadows Juvenile and Cal Cup Juvenile in his past two starts, in the Grade 1, $750,000 CashCall Futurity at 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood Park on Dec. 22.

The nominees also include stakes-winning Vadheim, multiple stakes-placed Younique Cat, and stakes-placed Cafe Tortoni.

El Gato Malo, an easy winner in his six-furlong debut on Nov. 19 at Hollywood Park, and Sassou, who has two wins and a second, including a turf victory locally, in three starts, are also nominated.P

Several options for La Mina

Veteran jockey Carlos Gonzalez, who rode for 20 years in Louisiana and is testing the waters in California, gave the Mike Mitchell-trained La Mina a perfect ride in the Corte Madera.

He sat just outside even-money Sky Mystic and kept that one just inside him even when Sky Mystic kept trying to ease out. Gonzalez said he considered asking his filly to avoid a bit of contact, but thought if he pulled in front, it might give Sky Mystic a chance to get clear and make a move.

Gonzalez said his instructions were to let La Mina run at a comfortable pace as well as keep an eye on Sky Mystic, so he simply maintained position before reeling in Christmas Ship and pulling away late.

Mitchell has plenty of options with La Mina, who earlier won the Hidden Light on the turf during the Oak Tree meet. If he wants to return to the turf, he has the Blue Norther at a mile at Santa Anita on Dec. 30. Also coming up at Santa Anita on the main track are a pair of graded stakes, the 1 1/16-mile Santa Ysabel on Jan. 5 and the seven-furlong Santa Ynez on Jan. 13.

Christmas Ship, who has shown improvement for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, ran a strong race and was an easy second. Hollendorfer said he wished rider Alex Bisono had let her open up on the field down the backstretch instead of keeping her under a snug hold.

Sky Mystic finished fourth, and jockey David Lopez said she seemed a bit intimidated running between rivals, which may explain why she failed to fire and tired a bit late.

Tinkering with track improves rail

While the new Tapeta surface has certainly played fair from a pace viewpoint, it was beginning to favor runners who made outside moves. The rail wasn't "dead," and some runners took advantage of ground-saving trips to win. But far more horses won by swinging wide.

Tapeta inventor Michael Dickinson, making another stop at Golden Gate Fields last weekend en route to Korea, worked with the track crew to try to ensure that the track played fairly inside and outside, so that horses on Sunday's card could win along the rail.

Hollendorfer closing in on 5,000

Hollendorfer should reach the career milestone of 5,000 victories this week. Though Christmas Ship had to settle for second in the Corte Madera, Hollendorfer did get a stakes victory last Saturday with Heatseeker, who set a Hollywood Park track record at 1 1/8 miles with a 1:47.23 clocking to capture the $100,000 Native Diver Handicap while paying $63.40.

Sitting at 4,995 victories, Hollendorfer will send out three runners Wednesday with Lady Flasheart in the first, Valid Star in the third, and Don Elias M. in the seventh.

Tricky race for pick-six players

A $16,840 pick-six carryover should add a bit of interest to Wednesday's card and the feature race, a $32,000 claimer for 3-year-olds at six furlongs.

It looks like a race where a pick-six bettor may have to go deep without getting a ton of value in return. Five of the nine have won one of their past two starts, and two others, including Don Elias M., who placed in a pair of Grade 1 stakes in his native Mexico last spring, won three races back.

Stakes-placed Acquire the Fire steps up a notch after stalking and finishing nicely to beat a $25,000 claiming field as a lukewarm favorite last time.

Lookn for the Lord, third as the favorite in a $40,000 claimer in his last start, drops a notch as he brings a 6-2-1-3 career record into the race. He does have speed but also drew the rail.

San Miguel King, who finished second to Acquire the Fire in his last start, and Appealing Dream, who followed Lookn for the Lord across the finish line last time, figure in the mix as well in an interesting race.