03/21/2006 12:00AM

Great pace setup for Greenie

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ALBANY, Calif. - Art Sherman knows trainers aren't supposed to fall in love with horses, but it's hard not to love Greenie, who seeks his first stakes victory Thursday in the $50,000 Fishermans Wharf at Golden Gate Fields.

A 5-year-old gelding, Greenie is coming off a career-best effort in a Santa Anita allowance race, in which he dead-heated with Areyoutalkintome, earning a 104 Beyer.

"He's a neat horse," Sherman said. "He's always been one of my favorites."

What's not to like about a horse who has won 7 of 13 starts, including two straight this year? This despite sitting out for nearly a year after having a chip taken out of his knee in September 2004.

Thursday's stakes sets up perfectly for Greenie.

Slew's Prince and Left 'Em Burning drew inside him and will likely be battling for the lead. Who's Kidding Who is also a front-runner and is drawn just outside Greenie in the No. 5 post in the field of five.

has speed and went wire to wire to beat stakes winner Loyalton at Bay Meadows on Jan. 8. In fact, Greenie's first six victories came in wire-to-wire fashion.

He used stalking tactics in his most recent victory, however, and and that may be his style Thursday.

"I'm happy where he's drawn, outside the main speed," Sherman said. "He's pretty fast himself, but if he's laying third, that's fine."

figures to get the lead. He has run twice this year after a 14-month layoff. In the Grade 3 El Conejo on Jan. 2, he opened by four lengths, running the first half-mile in under 44 seconds, before finishing fourth. He lost to Greenie's stablemate Siren Lure after setting the pace in the Daytona Handicap on Feb. 19 at Santa Anita. In 2004, Slew's Prince ran a sub-43 opening half down the hill at Santa Anita.

Left 'Em Burning and also have speed, but Who's Kidding Who has never met runners of this quality before. Left 'Em Burning could find himself between runners, which is always a tough spot.

Unless Slew's Prince shakes loose early, he may be spent when Greenie challenges him into the stretch.

Also in the race is High Standards, winner of the Grade 3 Baldwin and the San Pedro at Santa Anita last year as a 3-year-old. He was eased in his Feb. 19 comeback.

* Golden Gate Fields has been listing its overnight stakes at $40,000-added, but starting with this race, they will be listed as $50,000 races that include $10,000 in Cal-bred funds.