10/30/2007 11:00PM

'Ivy League' consistent for 4 barns

EmailSAN MATEO, Calif. - Trainer Armando Lage never had a moment's doubt when he claimed Ivy League Genius for $25,000 on Aug. 13. Ivy League Genius has been first and second in two starts for Lage, and she runs Friday at Bay Meadows in a $50,000 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. She's the only one of the eight fillies and mares in the race running for a tag.

Ivy League Genius, a 4-year-old half-sister to Northern California multiple stakes winner Hurricane Carter, has made four trainers look good this year, racking up 5 wins, 3 seconds, and 1 third in 11 starts while being claimed four times.

Ivy League Genius has failed to hit the board only once since falling in a multi-horse spill in her first Northern California start on Jan. 28 at Golden Gate Fields.

Lage recalls the spill vividly but also remembers Ivy League Genius won her next start.

"She's very professional," he said. "She's such a pro. Once the gate opens, she always runs. That was one of the criteria we used when we claimed her. She always runs a good race."

Jerry Hollendorfer claimed Ivy League Genius for $25,000 at Santa Anita on Jan. 11. She won twice for him, including on May 24 when trainer John Martin claimed her for $16,000. She won both her starts for John Martin before being claimed for $25,000 by trainer R.L. Martin on June 30 at Pleasanton. She ran second, beaten a neck, and was claimed by Lage in her next start.

For Lage, she won a $32,000 claimer on the turf, then lost a neck photo in a $50,000 optional claimer that was switched to the main track on Oct. 13.

"She's a pleasure to train," Lage said, adding that he thinks there's a good chance she'll be claimed. "She's had so many trainers, and they all know her so well."

Win or lose, Friday's race will have a bitter tinge for Lage. Ivy League Genius's owner, Steve Nelson, died last Friday.

Also in the race are the entry of Lady in Love and Nottingham Forest from leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer; the solid runners Star Serenade and Higher Love, second and third against similar in their last start; Kleven's Verbatim, who finished immediately behind Ivy League Genius in their last start; Threadneedle, a winner two back at Del Mar; and Missatacama, who has earned a check in each start this year.