03/12/2004 12:00AM

Mulhall back for more with Tronare

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ALBANY, Calif. - Will lightning strike twice for Kristin Mulhall?

Last fall, she sent the Chilean-bred Mister Acpen to Bay Meadows, where he won the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap for his first U.S. stakes victory.

On Sunday, she sends the Chilean-bred Tronare to Golden Gate Fields to run in the Grade 3, $125,000 Golden Gate Breeders' Cup Handicap in search of his first U.S. win.

Roberto Gonzalez, who rode Mister Acpen to victory, will ride Tronare.

"He's been running well, and this looks like it could be the right spot for him," Mulhall said.

In Chile in 2002, Tronare ran second to Mister Acpen in the Group 1 El Derby.

Both horses were subsequently purchased by The Thoroughbred Corp. But when Prince Ahmed bin Salman died that summer, Mulhall persuaded Steve Taub to put together a syndicate with Neil Papiano and Noctis Stable to buy the pair.

"We bought [Tronare] with Mister Acpen, who beat him in Chile, but there was a rumor there that he was the better horse," Mulhall said.

Tronare, who won a Group 2 stakes at 1 1/4 miles in Chile, was fifth in his U.S. debut at Hollywood Park last summer and ran fourth at Del Mar before Mulhall backed off him.

"We just wanted to give him more time to develop," she said. "In Chile, he came from off the pace, but he wasn't seeming to make a long late run here. We tried to get a little more speed into him."

Tronare has run twice following nearly six months on the sidelines. He was second in his comeback at a mile and finished third in a 1 1/4-mile race in his second start.

Tronare should get a good stalking trip Sunday.

"You have to get him in the race early," Mulhall said, "but it should set up well for him."

Soud should have his way in front

Trainer Neil Drysdale may not have breathed a sigh of relief when All the Boys wasn't entered in the Golden Gate BC, but now control of the pace should belong to Soud, who returned from a six-month layoff to score a wire-to-wire victory at a mile in his last start.

"He likes to run freely," Drysdale said.

Soud is a head and a neck away from five straight victories.

"He's improving," Drysdale said. "He's been running well. He ran well at Del Mar but just needed some time off. He's bigger, stronger, and happier."

Mananan McLir's aching back

Mananan McLir is the lone winner of an American graded race in the field. He has run twice after taking six months off following a back injury suffered during a victory at Churchill Downs last May.

"We found he had a back problem and thought we had it solved," trainer Wally Dollase said. "It bothered him last time, but I think he'll run a big race."

* Depending on Skipaslew's finish in Saturday's El Camino Real Derby, Gold Ruckus could clinch horse of the meeting honors with a victory Sunday. He has three wins, including the Lafayette Handicap, as well as a second in the San Carlos and a third in the Tanforan.