09/26/2004 11:00PM

Mazelman still maturing

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Fast works and a $200,000 purchase price made Mazelman look like a good thing in his June 10 debut race. But he finished fifth that day, disappointing trainer Kent Molinaro and his father, Bob, who had purchased Mazelman in February at an Ocala, Fla., sale.

They weren't disappointed Sunday at Bay Meadows, however, when Mazelman made his second start. On a day when the front was the place to be, Mazelman made the lead and was in control all the way.

After the winner's photo was taken, Bob Molinaro kidded winning jockey Dennis Carr about running Mazelman in the Kentucky Derby. But who knows what the future holds?

Although Mazelman had worked quickly before his first race, his trainer knew he wasn't ready to run the race of his life.

"You learn to be humble in this game," Kent Molinaro said. "I thought he could win, but I didn't do a lot with him. Since I don't have a lot of young horses, he worked in company only when I could find a horse who was at about the same point he was. I only worked the horse in company a couple times before the first race."

Molinaro sensed Mazelman needed some time to grow and mature. Since his father owns Mazelman, there was no pressure on Molinaro to rush the colt, who is the most expensive his father has ever purchased.

Molinaro lost out in the bidding on three other youngsters before buying Mazelman.

"We were trying to get a good horse," he said. "A lot bought in that range turn out to be good, but there are no guarantees. You've seen people pay a couple million and the horses don't even get to the races."

Carr said Mazelman may have made the lead too easily Sunday and he had to keep busy on him because Mazelman was interested in looking around.

Last out should help Ninebanks

Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap drew 14 nominees, and six are listed as definite for the 1 1/8-mile race on the turf.

One of them is Ninebanks, a Grade 2 winner over this course. He was third in the race behind Mister Acpen and Fateful Dream last year.

He has made only three starts this year and was second off a layoff in the California Turf Championship on Labor Day as he tried to win the race for the third straight time. He should be in better condition with a race under his belt.

Balestrini, Manahan McLir, Murano, Needwood Blade, and Night Patrol are also scheduled to go. Trainer Neil Drysdale is weighing his options with King of Happiness, a stablemate of Balestrini. Trainer Ron McAnally is considering Seinne, but the 7-year-old horse is not Breeders' Cup-nominated and would be running for only $100,000.

Ramblin Bob tries turf, two turns again

Ramblin Bob, who almost pulled off the upset of the meet before odds-on Street Theatre got his head in front in the final strides last time, meets six rivals in a $40,000 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on the turf in Wednesday's feature. Ramblin Bob was making his turf and two-turn debut last time and should be even better this time.

His main competition should come from Congressional Honor, who was third last time, four lengths behind Ramblin Bob; Rare Request, stepping up off a claiming victory; and Tacky, who needed his last.