08/13/2006 11:00PM

It's that time of season for juveniles

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - There's a one-mile turf race for 2-year-old maidens Wednesday, and in northern California that's big news. Not only is it the first turf race offered for 2-year-olds, it is the first race as long as a mile. In fact, it's the first race longer than 5 1/2 furlongs offered for 2-year-olds.

In the first week of the meet, a six-furlong race in the condition book drew no entries.

"These races need to go," said racing secretary Tom Doutrich. "In Seattle, they're already going 6 1/2. Hopefully, if horsemen see them every year, they'll have horses ready."

The mile race, which has a $32,000 claiming tag, attracted seven runners, including two fillies. Only one of the runners, Blushing Bear Cat, has run farther than five furlongs; he ran six furlongs on July 16 at Hollywood Park. None has come closer than three lengths in a combined 17 starts.

Doutrich says it is important to create programs for 2-year-olds so that router types have a chance to run and develop. The development of routers would also allow Doutrich to write more allowance races for 2-year-olds in northern California during the fall Bay Meadows meet.

Barron H back and forth

Five tough runners compete in Wednesday's feature at the Bay Meadows Fair, a $20,000 claimer at six furlongs.

Barron H, whose seven victories over the Bay Meadows track exceed the career win totals of three of his rivals, will come over from Billy Morey's barn.

But will he go back to Morey's barn?

An 8-year-old who has won 3 of 8 starts this year, Barron H is a favorite of Morey and trainer John Martin. Since Nov. 24, Morey has claimed Barron H three times from Martin and owner Mark Enlow. Martin has reclaimed him twice. Barron H has run twice for Morey and once for Martin in his past three starts.

Black Ruby second in season debut

They don't spark as much curiosity as they once did, but mules still have a big place on the fair circuit.

Unlike Thoroughbreds, who seldom compete more than a year or two, mules race year after year and can develop a following.

The queen of the mules, Black Ruby, and the ascending star of the mule ranks, Sarah Nelson, both ran Saturday at Ferndale.

A 14-year-old, Black Ruby ran second to Ghenghis Khan, last year's champion 3-year-old, in a 220-yard race. It was Black Ruby's first start of the year.

"She seemed to come back fine," said owner Mary McPherson. "We're pleased she ran second, so she'll be able to come back next year if she wants to race."

McPherson said Black Ruby may run again this year at Fresno.

"It depends upon how it goes," she said.

McPherson and her husband, Sonny, have taken special care of Black Ruby. They would like to have her run until she is 16, but only if she is capable of competing and shows the desire to race.

On Saturday, Ghenghis Khan drifted over in front of Black Ruby, but McPherson didn't use that as an excuse.

"She doesn't get intimidated," McPherson said.

It didn't help Black Ruby that she had to work the Friday before the race because what the McPhersons believed was a timed work at Santa Rosa was not recorded. Mules, like horses, need to show a specific number of works to be eligible to run off a layoff.

Sarah Nelson is at the peak of her game, and on Saturday, she handed Smokin Joe a six-length defeat in their 660-yard match race. It was the first time she has beaten Smokin Joe around a turn.

"That was special," said owner Roger Downey. "She's to the point where she just wants to say in front. She's really willing to move out any time to get there. Now, she takes the lead, and instead of screwing around, as she's done historically, she runs straight."

Sarah Nelson and Smokin Joe run in a 220-yard race Wednesday and will be matched again in a 660-yard stakes race this weekend.

Three jockeys handed suspensions

Apprentice jockey Chris Landeros will miss Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday after being suspended by the stewards for causing interference when he was disqualified from first to second aboard Summer Stitch in the 10th race on closing day at Santa Rosa on Aug. 7.

Jockeys Angel Felix and Chad Schvaneveldt also received three-day suspensions for causing interference. Felix will sit Friday through Sunday for his ride aboard Swift Response in Thursday's Bay Meadows Fair seventh race, in which Felix's mount was disqualified from fourth to seventh. Schvaneveldt will miss Saturday through Monday for his ride on Candygram, who was disqualified from second to third in Friday's third race.

* The late horse owner Richard P. Lyons, who owned the stakes winner Wind Water among his many horses, was honored with a race named in his memory last Friday. Lyons died Aug. 6. Rockin' Rizzi, owned by Lyons's son Bill, set the early pace before finishing fifth.