07/12/2004 11:00PM

Megabyte won't wait for Del Mar


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Bonaire was a Group 3 winner last year in France, but she will be a long way from past heroics when she makes her U.S. debut Thursday at Hollywood Park. Five fillies and mares entered the seventh-race feature, a two-other-than/optional $80,000 claimer. A 3-year-old filly, Bonaire might be the class of the field, but she hardly has the best recent form.

Market Garden and The Toast of Troy finished one-two under similar conditions one month ago, and they should dominate. Two others - Stop the Talking and Brocky's Dream - are entered on a card marked by short fields. The spring-summer meet ends Sunday, and many horsemen are preparing for the Del Mar meet that begins next Wednesday.

Trainer Vladimir Cerin planned to wait until Del Mar to start his highly regarded 2-year-old Megabyte. would have nothing to do with it. "You can't just sit on a horse when they're doing this good," Cerin said. Rather than wait, Cerin entered Megabyte against eight others in race 4, a 5 1/2-furlong sprint for maiden 2-year-olds.

Based on Megabyte's promising fifth-place debut, and his sharp workouts since, he should be tough to beat. Cerin already mentioned the Grade 2 Del Mar Futurity as a summer goal for Megabyte, a son of Chief Seattle. Regarding the Thursday race, Cerin said, "if he doesn't draw one-two-three, I really like his chances." Cerin will like them anyway, despite post 3.

Megabyte encountered severe traffic trouble in his debut, yet finished well and missed by less than seven lengths to Roman Ruler, who will be favored Saturday in the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile. Megabyte's rivals in race 4 include second-time starter , Giacomo, Barry the Law, Temperature, and Things Happen. The 2-year-olds will race for a purse of $43,000.

The purse for race 7 is $50,000, and Market Garden should be favored to win. Claimed three starts back for $50,000 by Jeff Mullins, Market Garden finished second in a mile race June 3, then scored by a length when cut back to 5 1/2 furlongs June 16. That race was a two-other-than allowance. Market Garden is eligible Thursday because she is entered for the $80,000 claiming price.

The Toast of Troy finished a length behind Market Garden last time, and the possibility of a softer pace means she has a chance to turn the tables. Bonaire is the one to bear from behind. She won 2 of 6 last year, including a Group 3 against males in October.