02/21/2007 12:00AM

Lightly raced and on the improve

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By CHUCK DYBDAL

SAN MATEO, Calif. - D'Wildcharm is the least experienced runner in Friday's Bay Meadows feature, a $25,000 claimer at one mile. He has made only two starts and won his maiden last time for a $12,500 claiming tag. He also has the lowest Beyer in the field of six 3-year-olds.

But D'Wildcharm is a young horse who has shown he is improving, and he already has won at the distance. He merits a closer look, especially because he may offer great value.

D'Wildcharm has been unappreciated most of his life. He was overlooked in sales even, though his sire is Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm and his dam has never dropped a foal that didn't win.

All eight of his siblings have won, with half-sister Valory a stakes winner on turf. Another sibling, Nicely Accepted won eight times when routing.

Jeanne Shand, trainer Dennis Ward's assistant, was impressed when D'Wildcharm ran third sprinting in his debut, which came Dec. 29 at Golden Gate.

"He's definitely bred to go long," she said.

D'Wildcharm confirmed that in his second start, which came at a mile, stalking the pace and pulling away through the lane to win by four at Golden Gate Jan. 13. His final quarter wasn't particularly fast, but he wasn't really pushed once he began to open up in the lane. And he improved his Beyer from a 47 in his debut to a 51.

There is a big difference between the maidens he beat and the winners D'Wildcharm will face Friday.

Crowning Moosa has three victories, including one at this distance and level. Valid Star and the stakes-placed Gary John have two wins apiece, with both of Valid Star's coming at Friday's mile distance.

Belknap only has a maiden win, but he has four seconds, including runner-up efforts in all three starts since graduating. Templeton also has only one victory, but he, too, is stakes placed, having finished third in the 1 1/16-mile Gottstein Futurity at Emerald Downs last fall, and he finished fourth to the top 3-year-olds Bwana Bull and Brave Sun in his two starts in northern California.

D'Wildcharm seems talented enough to make a good living at this kind of level. The question is how much more can he improve.

The race could set up well for him, with Valid Star and Gary John likely to set a legitimate pace. Then it will become a question of whether D'Wildcharm can finish as well as Belknap and Crowning Moosa.