12/30/2008 12:00AM

Golden Bear appears a two-horse race


The first Golden Gate Fields stakes race of 2009 may turn into a match race on Thursday.

Although five runners have entered the $75,000 Golden Bear Stakes for 3-year-olds at six furlongs, the race seems to be between the Southern California-based multiple stakes winner Backbackbackgone and Revoluta, who won his only start in impressive style. Even the trainers of a couple of the others admit they are not expecting to beat those two.

"I'd say we're running for third, but the purse is nice," said Lloyd Mason, trainer of Nina's Benchmark.

Bud Klokstad, trainer of Free Action, said: "He's a decent little horse, and I think he'll run a decent race, but he may be in too tough. I don't know if I should be running in a race like that. I didn't expect that horse to come up from Southern California."

Backbackbackgone won the Willard Proctor at Hollywood Park in the spring and the Jack Goodman at Santa Anita in October. In his last start he finished fifth after dueling for the lead in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue in November.

Trainer Peter Miller will run Backbackbackgone in blinkers for the first time on Thursday.

"He's been training great with them," said Miller. "We're putting blinkers on, but we're not trying to get him to show more speed. We're just trying to keep him a little more focused when switching leads. He's run really good with them and runs straight down the stretch."

Although Backbackbackgone is very fast, Miller says he expects Revoluta to be on the lead. Revoluta broke sharply and had an open lead by the quarter pole in his debut under speed master Roberto Gonzalez, who takes the call again Thursday.

Revoluta's trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, is aware of Backbackbackgone's credentials but is quick to point out, "My horse is undefeated."

Revoluta earned an 85 Beyer in his debut, which he won by 4 1/4 lengths. It was the same number Backbackbackgone earned in his 10-length debut win last May at Bay Meadows and 1 point under Backbackbackgone's best Beyer, an 86 for winning the Jack Goodman.

Also bolstering the case for Revoluta is that Hornung, third beaten 7 3/4 lengths by Revoluta, came back to win his next start by eight lengths.

Hollendorfer said Revoluta will need improvement to win Thursday.

"He wasn't tested," Hollendorfer said, "but Gonzo didn't let him run a whole lot."

The fifth runner in the field is Capital Cat, a maiden, who has made eight starts and lost by 11 1/4 lengths to Revoluta.