05/03/2006 12:00AM

If field lacks identity, new faces have shot


ALBANY, Calif. - The popular starter allowance races for runners that have run for a claiming tag of $40,000 or less and have never won two races are a way station for trainers and their horses. The races are claim-proof, giving trainers a race to make a proper assessment of where their horse will ultimately fit.

Eight runners in that situation meet in Friday's Golden Gate Fields feature, which is at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Can't Stop Slew, who most recently won a straight maiden race at Santa Anita in his second start, qualifies for the race because he ran for a $40,000 claiming tag in his debut. He won when he was stretched out around two turns last time.

, a Brazilian-bred who won his career debut in his native country, qualified for this by running in a $40,000 claimer at Santa Anita in his last start, which was his second start after a 14-month layoff. Rudolf has never won on the turf but has come close, with a pair of seconds and three thirds against better company. He has never raced at 1 1/16 miles. Rudolf seems to be coming into this nicely, with three works since his last start.

It is often wise to look for new faces in these kinds of races. A runner such as , who is 1 for 30, is an easy throw out, with numerous past failures at this level. But Preachintothechoir, who is 1 for 19, is at least worth a second look, because he is coming off a win after spending most of his career in straight maiden races.

has done his best running around two turns and was a close second after dueling for the lead in his first try at this level. He may be able to establish a lead here, although he is comfortable stalking.

* Two-year-old maidens are highlighted in the co-feature. Direct Exposure, a $75,000 Barretts purchase, makes his debut for the Jeff Bonde barn and faces an interesting John Martin-trained entry of Uartaphoneme and Rushen Revue, who will be making his debut.

* Russell Baze, who will finish second in the jockey standings to Martin Garcia, is in Kentucky on Friday and Saturday, riding Lion Andthe Lamb, Trickey Trevor, and Cause to Believe in stakes for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.