09/28/2007 12:00AM

Mississippi Gold finding his niche

EmailSAN MATEO, Calif. - Mississippi Gold, fourth and second in his two starts on turf, looks in a good spot to win for the first time on grass when he meets eight rivals going one mile in a first-level allowance race at Bay Meadows.

His breeder and trainer, Cliff Delima, always believed Mississippi Gold would like the turf.

"He comes from the Mr. Prospector family," Delima said. "We thought he'd run well on the turf."

Mississippi Gold, 5, made his career debut last Dec. 3 and won at first asking in a $20,000 maiden claiming sprint here. He faded in his second start last Dec. 26 and didn't run again until four months later at Prairie Meadows, when Delima made one of his regular trips east. After a prep race, he won sprinting and then won again in his first try around two turns.

Delima wasted no time getting him on the turf upon his return home, and Mississippi Gold ran evenly to finish a wide-running fourth in allowance company at Santa Rosa.

"He ran real well that day," Delima said.

Following a dull sprint at the Bay Meadows fair, Delima entered Mississippi Gold on the turf in an allowance race on Sept. 9.

"I told the jockey 'Don't go with the speed,' and the kid took him back a long way," Delima said. "I didn't give him a shot at the three-eighths pole."

Mississippi Gold was last, trailing by 13 at the half-mile pole, and was still last, 10 behind at the quarter pole. He unleashed a strong rally to finish second to Unusual Cold by three-quarters of a length.

"Maybe he wants to be Silky Sullivan," Delima said, comparing Mississippi Gold to the legendary closer. "We'll probably do the same thing this time."

The field is a mixed bag with Palamoun, who won his maiden this past spring on Polytrack in Britain, making his U.S. debut. Recent winners Crafty Power, 2 for 2 on the local turf course, and turf sprint specialist Rooster are also entered.

Ready More, a $50,000 claim in his last start, and Past Tender, third behind Mississippi Gold last out, start as an uncoupled entry. William T makes his second start following a seven-month layoff.

Stephen Bruce, the favorite behind Mississippi Gold and Past Tender, and comebacking stakes-placed Class of Fifty round out the field.