08/06/2002 11:00PM

Gyrene's challenge: Facing her elders

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Trainer John Anderson knows that there's not a high percentage in asking a horse to do too many new things at once.

So he is adding only one unknown into the equation when he brings Gyrene back to the races on Friday in the Bay Meadows Fair feature, a six-furlong allowance race for fillies and mares 3 years old and up.

The new part of the equation for the stakes-placed Gyrene, who won her maiden race in her last start at Pleasanton on July 6, is facing older horses for the first time.

Gyrene, Bright Little Star, and One Diablo meet six older rivals in the race. Gyrene and Bright Little Star each receive five pounds from their rivals. One Diablo gets 10 pounds with hot apprentice Francisco Duran riding.

"I'm not a big weight person," Anderson said. "I don't think a horse knows the difference of a couple pounds. Five pounds is not that big a deal. My bigger concern is running against more mature horses."

This ended up as the best spot for Gyrene.

"There was a straight 3-year-old at a mile that didn't go," said Anderson, who is interested in stretching out Gyrene, who has one win and five seconds in eight starts.

There is a 3-year-old race on the turf, Saturday's $40,000-added Floral Fiesta Stakes, but, Anderson said, "I didn't want to try two new things at one time."

So Gyrene will try only one new thing: meeting older.

"I'm forced to go," Anderson said. "I'd prefer straight 3-year-olds, but I don't have a choice."

Gyrene started four times as a 2-year-old, finishing second in all four races, including the Solano County Juvenile Fillies Handicap at Vallejo and the Mid Peninsula stakes at the Bay Meadows Fair.

She had problems at the break in her comeback on May 12 and missed by a nose in her second start this year on June 2. She ran a dull race on closing day, June 16, at Bay Meadows, when Anderson said he erred by running her back too quickly.

Her victory at Pleasanton was from well off the pace, and she should have plenty of speed to set up her closing kick Friday.

One Diablo looks like the one to catch, while Saying Grace has turned in some solid tries in Southern California coming from off the pace.

Friday's 10-race card, which includes two Arabian allowance races, has seven races with only five betting interests, including both Arabian races.

One other race has six entrants, and only two races have sufficient entries for superfecta wagering, which requires eight starters.

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