08/07/2002 12:00AM

Look for 'Gold' in allowance

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Mind for Gold was always going to start at Del Mar this weekend. If a $61,000 allowance race for fillies and mares on Friday had not filled, owners Frank and Sharon Alesia and trainer Peter Eurton were willing to put Mind for Gold in Sunday's $300,000 Clement Hirsch Handicap.

When the one-mile allowance race filled, they had found their race, and avoided a start against division leader Azeri on Sunday.

Mind for Gold is a logical contender in Friday's allowance, a prep for the $125,000 Solana Beach Handicap for statebred fillies and mares on Sept. 2 and the California Cup at Santa Anita in November.

The allowance race is the feature on Friday's eight-race program after the $75,000 Honey Fox Handicap failed to draw sufficient entries. The stakes will not be reoffered, according to track officials.

This is likely to be Mind for Gold's final season on the racetrack before being retired to breed, so a stakes win later this year and a strong prep on Friday are important.

In her only start of 2002, Mind for Gold finished second in the Valkyr Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 19, losing by a length to Castling.

"She came back out of the race well," Eurton said.

The 6-year-old Mind for Gold will be ridden by Garrett Gomez. Mind for Gold faces six others, including Whoopddoo, who has been second or third in her last three starts; Run Rate, who finished a close third at Hollywood Park on July 3; and Continental Lu, who returned from a six-month layoff to finish third in a sprint on July 24.

Mind for Gold won a $100,000 claiming race on turf here last August. She made one more start in late September before being turned out until last month.

Eurton said that Mind for Gold was off during the winter because of a hairline fracture of a cannon bone. "She can go the distance, but she gets overzealous," Eurton said. "Garrett thought if she relaxed last time, he could get 10 lengths out of her.

"I think she's a touch better on the grass because the field comes back, but the competition is not as good on the dirt."

The allowance race lacks a clear front-runner, although Cee's Elegance and Run Rate have run close to the pace.

Continental Lu is a danger. A winner of 3 of her last 8 starts, she was pulled up in the Pro or Con Handicap at Santa Anita in February.

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