02/11/2005 12:00AM

Love That Man on a roll

Email

SAN MATEO, Calif. - Two veterans who love the Longden Turf Course renew their rivalry in Sunday's Bay Meadows feature.

carries a five-race win streak into the $32,000 claimer at 1 1/16 miles. His primary rival is Marcutio, who ran second to him last out Jan. 27 at Golden Gate Fields. Marcutio has won three of four starts over the Bay Meadows turf and ran second to World Light in the 2002 Half Moon Bay Handicap in his other start here.

Love That Man has won two of five starts over the turf here, including the victory that started his current winning streak. He drew the outside post in the field of eight, but has the versatility to avoid being hung wide early. Love That Man was a wire-to-wire winner as the odds-on favorite in his last start, when he beat Marcutio by 2 1/2 lengths, but he has also been able to win from off the pace.

The 6-year-old Marcutio did not race for two years after his runner-up finish in the Half Moon Bay. He showed improvement in his second start after the layoff but then stopped badly in a race that was transferred from the turf to the dirt on Jan. 8.

bounced back in his last start, when he rallied while four wide on the second turn and responded gamely to win the battle for second. He will be a formidable foe should he continue to improve.

The X-factor in the field is the Irish-bred Ceepio, who will be making his U.S. debut. A 7-year-old gelding, has not run since Sept. 27, 2003, at Ascot, but he has a solid series of works for his comeback. Trained by Sanford Shulman, Ceepio won 3 of 20 starts abroad.

Maidens are in the spotlight in the companion features, a 7 1/2-furlong turf affair for 3-year-old maiden fillies and a one-mile race on the main track for 3-year-old colts.

Four of the eight runners in the race for colts ship north from Southern California.

Brave Charmer, a Triple Crown nominee trained by Bob Baffert, appears the one to beat. Somuch Higher will travel north to make his debut, and Nodoubletouch, another Triple Crown nominee, ships up in search of his first win.

Melinda Rose, badly troubled in her debut, could be the one to beat in the filly race, in which all 11 runners in the overflow field try the turf for the first time.