04/29/2009 11:00PM

Niner Genius remains on grass


ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Gil Matos is a big fan of the San Francisco 49ers and the team's onetime coach Bill Walsh, who often was referred to as a genius. So he named one of his colts Niner Genius.

"I named him right after Bill Walsh passed away," Matos said.

Matos looked pretty smart himself when Niner Genius ran on the turf for the first time, graduating in a straight maiden race on April 2 at Golden Gate Fields.

A son of Bold Genius, Niner Genius stays on the Golden Gate turf Saturday in the $75,000 Silky Sullivan for 3-year-old California-breds at 1 1/16 miles.

Matos said he is running Niner Genius in the Silky Sullivan rather than last week on the Gold Rush card for California-breds at Hollywood Park in an effort to avoid the better 3-year-old statebred turf horses.

Niner Genius has six rivals, three with turf victories and two making their turf debuts.

"This is as even a race as you'll find," Matos said. "There are not any monsters here."

Russell Baze, aboard for the maiden win, rides Niner Genius.

The field includes Feisty Suances, runner-up to Pioneerof the Nile in the Grade 2 San Felipe and fifth in the Santa Anita Derby. A son of Grade 2 San Francisco Breeders' Cup Handicap winner Suances, Feisty Suances makes his turf debut.

Adriatic Moon, second in the Gold Rush Stakes here last December, will also be making his turf debut. Miguel's Mascot, unplaced in the Grade 2 Best Pal at Del Mar last summer, has one win in three turf tries.

Niner Genius was last every step of the way in his debut last July at Solano.

"Mentally, he wasn't ready," Matos said of that 5 1/2-furlong sprint.

Since his return in November, Niner Genius has only routed.

After trying allowance company in his 2009 debut, Niner Genius had three seconds against maidens on the main track before notching his maiden victory in his last start.

Winning a race made a big difference in Niner Genius's behavior, Matos said.

"It happens with a lot of young horses," Matos said. "Sometimes when they do win, they realize what they're doing out there.

"He's been training awesome. He's going in as well as he can. The 30 days did him a lot of good. The last week or so, he's really come on."