11/07/2007 1:00AM

Jones double-teams allowance favorite

EmailINGLEWOOD, Calif. - Trainer Marty Jones may need two starters to win Friday's first race at Hollywood Park, a $45,000 allowance race for California-bred sprinters going seven furlongs.

Jones starts Captain Sacto and River Echo, who each won a claiming race in his last start. They have three rivals in a small field, including Gentle Romeo, the likely favorite.

Like Gentle Romeo, the Jones duo can claim a liking for Hollywood Park.

River Echo, who won a $40,000 claiming race on Cushion Track at Santa Anita on Oct. 11, beat statebred maidens here last December. He was second in the Graduation Stakes for statebred 2-year-olds at Del Mar in July 2006, his only stakes appearance.

River Echo's last race was his only start for a tag in an eight-race career.

"He ran well the other day," Jones said. "He's got some back-class."

River Echo will be ridden by Garrett Gomez, who was aboard for the maiden win.

Captain Sacto is taking a jump in class. Captain Sacto has run in claiming races or starter allowance races in the last 18 months, and has won his last three races - two $10,000 claimers during the spring-summer meeting here and a six-furlong race for $20,000 claimers at Del Mar on Sept. 3. He has not started since.

Agapito Delgadillo, who has been aboard for his last three races, has the mount.

"The horse is sharp," Jones said. "It's the right distance, with the right track, with the right rider. Hopefully he's good enough."

Gentle Romeo and River Echo are the only 3-year-olds in the field. Gentle Romeo scored a stylish maiden win against statebreds over 6 1/2 furlongs on July 7 in his debut, but returned to finish sixth in an optional claimer for statebreds over 1 1/16 miles on Aug. 15. In that race, he broke slowly and was never a factor.

The Aug. 15 race has been be productive. Race winner Rush With Thunder returned to win the El Cajon Stakes, while runner-up Joy's Comet returned to win an optional claimer at Fairplex Park.

Gentle Romeo has worked well in recent weeks, although trainer John Shirreffs doesn't demand fast work times. Joe Talamo rides Gentle Romeo on Friday, replacing Richard Migliore, who does not have a mount in the race.