10/25/2004 11:00PM

Halo Cat might head right to lead with Baze


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze has seen this type of pace scenario before.

"It looks like that Green Team race," he said after perusing the past performances of the six runners scheduled for a six-furlong $80,000 optional claimer, which is Bay Meadows's Thursday feature.

The six runners in the field have won a combined $1,357,601, but none has shown any early foot sprinting.

Faced with a similar scenario in the $100,000 California Sprint Championship here on Sept. 11, Baze stole the race by putting Green Team on the lead while recording a wire-to-wire victory.

The same tactics could result in a victory for Baze's mount, Halo Cat, in Thursday's race.

"He very well could be on the lead," Baze said.

Based on fractions in previous races, Halo Cat is capable of running the opening half-mile in 44 seconds and change, which is faster than his rivals seem capable of running.

Halo Cat has drawn the outside post, which is an advantage, Baze said.

"Being outside gives you options," Baze said.

Baze said that if Halo Cat breaks cleanly, he would consider going to the lead, "and just adjust to what everyone else does. Others will see there's no speed, and they may try to go early. If someone sends, I can let them have the lead, but that takes them out of their game."

Dennis Carr sees the race the same way, but he will be riding Attack Force, who doesn't have the speed to make the front.

"He's a good breaker, but he always drops back," Carr said.

Attack Force comes off a nice win in a $62,500 optional claimer, but things set up perfectly for him that day when four speedballs ran against him. Attack Force was last early and won by 2 1/4 lengths.

"In the last race, he was like a man on a mission," Carr said. "I could tell by his look in the paddock. I hope I see the same look this time."

Attack Force loves Bay Meadows; he has four wins, three seconds, and a third in nine starts, but Carr knows he will have to be a little closer early to add to that win total Thursday.

"It may turn into a three-eighths sprint," he said, "but of all the closers, he can kick as hard as anybody."

* Eighteen runners, including defending champ Vallarta and course specialist Ninebanks, were nominated for Sunday's $55,000-added Pacifica Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the Longden Turf Course. Eight of the 18 nominees are coming off a victory.