03/30/2004 1:00AM

This grass race strictly a guessing game


ALBANY, Calif. - What would happen if Golden Gate Fields carded a grass race and no turf runners entered?

You would have Thursday's feature, a $40,000 starter allowance race at 1 1/16 miles in which the seven 3-year-olds will all make their turf debut.

None of the seven seems to be bred to improve dramatically on turf. The race has the look of an experiment to find additional career options.

Tomlinson turf ratings indicate Elron may appreciate the grass more than his rivals.

Elron, a son of Demons Begone out of the El Gran Senor mare Trinity Treasure, picked up minor checks at Emerald Downs as a 2-year-old in the WTBA Lads Stakes and Gottstein Futurity, but his lone victory came at the $16,000 maiden claiming level. He is the only runner in the field other than probable favorite Rose Du Roi to have won a race around two turns.

Elron was last all the way after breaking slowly against similar company in his comeback after a five-month layoff. He broke slowly and was badly outrun in that Feb. 28 sprint, but he has had three works since, and trainer Jedd Josephson shows a flat-bet profit when putting horses in a spot like this.

Josephson has won at 24 percent and shows a $3.03 flat-bet profit with horses making their second start off a layoff. He has won only 1 of 10 in the past two years with horses making their turf debut, but that winner paid $71.60, and he shows a flat-bet profit with the dirt-to-turf switch as well as on the turf in general. Josephson also shows a profit when stretching horses from sprints to routes and after a one-month layoff.

Rose Du Roi, who was claimed by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer for $20,000 in his last start, may be hard to beat.

He has two decent drills for Hollendorfer, who wins 25 percent with horses he claimed from their last starts.

While Rose Du Roi's Tomlinson turf rating is nothing special, he is the most accomplished runner at the distance. He won his maiden going 1 1/16 miles and set the pace before being caught late at the same distance in his last start. The third-place finisher that day was another five lengths back.

Thursday's race appears wide open, which means steering clear of a low-priced horse such as Rose Du Roi may be wise.

We Got Money and Military Rhythm, each making his first start around two turns, could also be factors.