04/27/2007 12:00AM

Greg's Gold looks a cut above these


NGLEWOOD, Calif. - Two of the three Grade 1 winners on the California Gold Rush card Sunday at Hollywood Park entered the same race. Only one is a standout.

Greg's Gold will start at a short price in race 4, the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes for older California-breds at 7o1/2 furlongs. With all due respect to Debonair Joe, winner of the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes in 2002, the 6-year-old Greg's Gold will be tough to beat.

"I think he's the best horse," Greg's Gold's trainer, David Hofmans, said, and who would argue? Greg's Gold won the Grade 1 Bing Crosby in July 2005, was off a year and a half to recover from a tendon injury, and picked up this year where he left off.

Greg's Gold won his Feb. 18 comeback by more than three lengths, finished second to Smokey Stover on April 7 in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande, and drops in class Sunday into a statebred race that lacks an obvious second choice.

A five-time winner from 15 races, Greg's Gold apparently towers over nine rivals, even if 7 1/2 furlongs is a stretch.

"I don't think distance is a problem," Hofmans said. "He's won at seven furlongs, and run well at a mile."

Greg's Gold, owned by breeder William Boswell, also is in absolute peak form.

"He's fresh. He's real good right now," Hofmans said, citing a big six-furlong drill Monday he called a "strong, hard work."

David Flores will ride Greg's Gold, a son of Lake George who is using the Tiznow as a bridge to the Grade 1, $300,000 Triple Bend on July 7. With five successive triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures, Greg's Gold is the only Tiznow starter currently eyeing the Triple Bend.

Beyond the favorite, the Tiznow is jumbled. Areyoutalkintome is nearing the million-dollar mark, but the 9-for-45 graded stakes winner runs best at Santa Anita. Trained by Doug O'Neill, Areyoutalkintome was claimed for $32,000 in his third start, and with earnings of $926,254 currently ranks 50th on the list of leading California-bred money winners.

He's the Rage, who won the 2003 Cal Cup Juvenile in his second career start, was claimed for $50,000 last month by Mike Mitchell. He's the Rage has won 7 of 25, and the pace figure he earned last out racing 1 1/16 miles gives him a chance cutting back to a sprint.

Other Tiznow starters include Scottsbluff, Cigar Pal, Only One Way, Desert Boom, Seminole Native, and Bilo. The other Grade 1 winner Sunday, aside from Greg's Gold and Debonair Joe, is Hollywood Starlet winner Romance Is Diane. She runs in race 8, the Melair Stakes.