05/17/2004 12:00AM

Golden Marlin fits well


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Lady Tak's likely presence in Saturday's Winning Colors Handicap at Churchill Downs is apt to result in a short field. But she seemingly contributed to Wednesday's featured ninth race at Churchill Downs becoming deeper and classier than a typical weekday allowance.

Four nominees to the Winning Colors - Golden Marlin, Keiai Sakura, Souris, and Vicki Vallencourt - are entered in a talent-laden ninth race, a $63,000 money allowance race for fillies and mares at seven furlongs.

, winner of Grade 3 Dogwood over the Churchill Downs strip last year, is well-suited to the allowance conditions, which restricts the race to fillies and mares that have not won a race other than maiden, claiming, starter, or statebred in 2004. A four-time winner last year, she qualifies due largely to inactivity over the winter and spring.

After finishing eighth in the Falls City Handicap in her last start of 2003, Golden Marlin returned to the races Derby week, finishing third behind Grade 1 Test winner Lady Tak in a six-furlong allowance April 24. Chasing Lady Tak from the start, she got tired and was passed late by Souris for the runner-up spot.

"We were running to win," trainer Greg Foley said. "We weren't running just to run second."

With a comeback race behind her, she should be primed for a top effort. Rafael Bejarano rides.

, a multiple stakes winner of over $345,000, makes her third start following a layoff. Prior to her runner-up finish to stablemate Lady Tak, she finished third in a money allowance at Oaklawn Park in her first race of the year. Shane Sellers has the mount.

Although the four Winning Colors nominees are among the classiest entrants, there are others in the 10-horse field who can win.

Silent Stream, unraced since Nov. 28, returns from a layoff after winning five of her last six races. When she last raced in the fall, she won an optional claiming race at 1 1/16 miles by 4 1/4 lengths, earning a 100 Beyer Speed Figure.

might also challenge. Third behind Harmony Lodge in the Gallant Bloom Handicap Oct. 5, she was a non-threatening fourth behind Lady Tak April 24 in her first race after that.

Her trainer, Bill Mott, normally has his horses improve in their second start after a long layoff. According to Daily Racing Form statistics, 15 of his last 38 horses - 39 percent - have won when starting for the second time after a break of 180 days.