03/10/2003 12:00AM

Midweek but not middling


ALBANY, Calif. - Midweek cards at Golden Gate Fields are often lackluster, but Wednesday's has an interesting batch of races.

The feature is a six-furlong allowance race for 3-year-old fillies.

Trainer Jeff Bonde appears to have the two fillies to beat in the race, Jaciro and recent maiden winner Hajji Babe.

"They're both good fillies," Bonde said. "I wish they didn't have to face one another, but sometimes you have to do this to make races fill."

Only three rivals are signed up to face Bonde's pair.

After an impressive win in her debut, Jaciro went to Southern California for the $125,000 California Breeders' Championship. Racing inside against an outside bias, she sat just off the pace and moved into contention in the stretch before fading badly in the seven-furlong race.

She then lost by a nose in an $80,000 optional claimer that Bonde still can't believe she lost. "Even the other jockey thought we won," he said.

Her last start was in the $112,000 Boo La Boo, where she was sixth.

"She was just getting in a good spot when she got caught behind horses," Bonde said. "She had to check and shifted out. She didn't quit, but she didn't kick on."

Jaciro is the one to beat, but her stablemate is "a legitimate speedball," in Bonde's words. Hajji Babe has never been headed in the first half-mile in any of her three starts, and she has improved her Beyer Speed Figure in each outing.

Later on the card, nine maiden 3-year-olds will go 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The field includes two highly regarded runners from Jerry Hollendorfer's barn, Ocean Park and Patriot Noise. It is the first route for each, and both runners look as if they will prefer routing to sprinting.

Ocean Park seems to have better turf breeding, but both Hollendorfer runners will have to beat Direct Male, a runner-up in each of his three turf starts, beaten by a combined distance of less than two lengths.

All three runners who beat him - Winning Stripes, Frisco Johnny, and Allwood - ran in Saturday's El Camino Real Derby. His loss to Allwood in his last start was an allowance race against winners in which he was favored despite being a maiden.

"I'm putting blinkers on him to try to keep him closer early," trainer Jedd Josephson said. "He's had to make up too much ground. But he'll win and go through his conditions."

* Russell Baze and Francisco Duran, the two top riders at the meet, will be serving three-day suspensions this week. Duran will miss Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for his ride on Westmead Empress on March 2. Baze will miss Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for his ride on Partytime on March 7.

* Sunday's Grade 3, $150,000 Golden Gate Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on the turf drew 16 nominees, including Royal Gem, winner of last fall's Bay Meadows Derby. Twelve 3-year-old fillies were nominated for Saturday's $75,000 California Oaks at 1 1/16 miles, including stakes winners Amber Hills, Denali Cat, Lucky Sabre, Maddie's Charm, Tale of a Dream, and Viansa Ossidiana.