01/07/2003 1:00AM

Markle claim takes a step up


ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Dan Markle was unable to buy A Memo for Avie as a yearling in Washington in 2001, but he persisted and didn't let a second opportunity get away.

"I liked him when he went through the yearling sale, but he went for $14,000, and I couldn't get anyone to swing the bat," Markle said.

Joyce and Richard Hayertz took a swing when A Memo for Avie made his debut last April at Emerald Downs, claiming him for $25,000 from a win.

Whether they hit a home run is open to debate, but A Memo for Avie will seek his second victory since being claimed in Thursday's Golden Gate Fields feature, a $50,000 optional claimer at six furlongs that has attracted a field of six.

After being claimed on April 28, A Memo for Avie did not run until Oct. 31 at Bay Meadows. He led for the opening half-mile before fading. He ran second in his next start and then won in the slop here on Dec. 20.

"My owner noticed he was a Cal-bred so he decided to take a shot," Markle said, explaining the decision to claim A Memo for Avie, a ridgling. "We didn't want to run up there [in Washington]. We saved him for down here to capitalize on the Cal-bred program here."

A Memo For Avie has some tough competition Thursday.

Allwood, nominated to Saturday's Golden Gate Derby, won the Oct. 31 race in which A Memo for Avie finished seventh. Finishing third in that race was Silver Dollar Day, who then beat A Memo for Avie here on Nov. 21.

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