06/13/2001 12:00AM

Miss Frankie in good spot

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Miss Frankie, second to a stakes filly in a $12,500 starter allowance race May 16, rates as the one to beat when she runs for a $20,000 claiming price in the feature at Bay Meadows Friday night.

Despite a reported horse shortage and simultaneous racing at the San Joaquin County Fair at Stockton, the Friday night program at Bay Meadows came up strong on total entries, if a bit weak on quality. Fifty-nine horses entered the eight-race program, compared with only 48 horses the previous Friday, when Stockton wasn't running.

Seven entered the $20,000 claiming feature for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs for a purse of $24,000.

Miss Frankie, from the J. T. Marshall barn, has had a good year, with two wins, two seconds and a third from nine starts, and earnings of $34,550. If you throw out her three two-turn races - she was unplaced in all three - her record looks even better.

Earlier this year, Miss Frankie won back-to-back sprints for $12,500 and $25,000 tags. After finishing sixth in a mile allowance race, she dropped into a $12,500 starter and finished second to Deb's Royal Flush, who had previously been stakes-placed three times and was the 2-5 favorite. Off that race and her recent win for $25,000, Miss Frankie fits well at this $20,000 level.

Her major threat may be Miss Blue Bayou, who finished fourth in the same starter allowance that was won by Deb's Royal Flush. Miss Blue Bayou dueled with the winner to the stretch, then faded to fourth, a little more than two lengths behind Miss Frankie. Leading rider Russell Baze, who has ridden her in her last two starts, sticks with her for this race.

Funny Bone, trained by Armando Lage, is stepping up in class but is improving and must be considered. A daughter of Strike Gold, she won a $12,500 maiden-claiming race in her fourth career start, then came right back to win a $12,500 non-winners-of-two by three lengths. Baze takes off to ride Miss Blue Bayou, but second-leading rider Jason Lumpkins takes over.

Each of the others also has a legitimate chance to win.

Jane Loves Niners and Breanna just finished second and third, respectively, in a $16,000 claiming race. Bonusita is coming off a strong win in a $12,500 non-winners-of-two. And Almost a Valentine has been showing brief speed against tougher in Southern California.