02/04/2004 1:00AM

Molinaro has gelding on rise


ALBANY, Calif. - Mid-level claimers offer an attractive wagering proposition in Friday's Golden Gate Fields feature race.

The 1 1/16-mile race for $20,000 claimers brings out 10 runners, five of whom are dropping and four of whom are moving up.

Givemethreedimes, stepping up off a claim by Kent Molinaro, could offer value in the race.

A 6-year-old gelding, Giveme-threedimes was second behind Memphis when he was claimed from a strong $12,500 mile race on Jan. 23. He stalked the wire-to-wire winner and was seven lengths ahead of the third-place horse.

Molinaro is an underrated trainer who saddled winners at a 40 percent clip last year. He saddled eight winners from 10 starters at last spring's Bay Meadows meeting. He is only 1 for 15 at the current meeting, but he maintains a 33 percent win percentage first off the claim as well as a $2.53 flat-bet profit on such a move.

Givemethreedimes has won three of his seven starts here, including an $8,000 claimer two races back.

He is fast enough to take the lead and tactical enough to sit off No Toro, a possible pacesetter. The freshened Storm Signal also will likely be part of any pace battle.

Ice Prince, who has put together victories for a $12,500 and a $16,000 claiming price, may be favored here.

Weekend stakes a little light

Only five of the 27 nominees for Saturday's $75,000 Tanforan Handicap are expected to run.

Cappuchino and Gold Ruckus, both trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, could be the co-highweights at 116 pounds. Expresso Bay, Savage, and Club Forty One are also slated to run. Trainer Bobby Frankel said Wednesday that he was undecided if he would enter a horse.

Sunday's $75,000-added Golden State Mile, which attracted 29 nominees, also may have only five runners.

Dixieland Heater, Gold Bankers Gold, Kilgowan, O.K. Mikie, and Trish's Diamond are expected to run.

Hollendorfer, who nominated two fillies to the race, is considering running Bending Strings, who was fourth in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez in her last start. Bensquito, third in the Grade 3 Golden Gate Derby in his stakes debut, is also a possibility.

The short field led trainer Jerry McArthur to change plans with O.K. Mikie, who originally was being considered for Sunday's 1 1/8-mile Sham Stakes at Santa Anita.