05/26/2004 12:00AM

One Bell Boy consistently in the money


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Friday's Bay Meadows feature offers a variety of handicapping angles.

If you favor class, Shamus Shea may be the choice in the $16,000 claimer at 1 1/16 miles. Pace handicappers may like the looks of Splendid Times, who drew the rail for a stretchout off a pair of sprints. Those looking for the horse with the best form may settle on One Bell Boy, who won two of his past three starts, all in Arizona, after running against cheaper here last fall and winter.

Another Gear and Ice Prince, both coming off third-place finishes, round out the field in this wide-open puzzler.

Splendid Times appears to be the pacesetter, but he has not shown much desire to go two turns despite breeding that hints he should be able to handle the route.

He was last at this distance in his comeback on March 28, but that was against tougher, and he needed the race. He ran evenly in a turf sprint after that and followed up with a sharp second sprinting last time.

One Bell Boy, who won for a $6,250 claiming price last December at Golden Gate Fields, was never worse than third in six starts this year at Turf Paradise, winning on both turf and dirt.

He has stalking speed and should challenge Splendid Times on the second turn. He just won at the distance on the dirt in a $5,000 starter handicap race and won a first-level allowance race in his previous dirt start, but Friday's competition may be tougher than he has been meeting.

Shamus Shea was a distant third behind a runaway winner in his comeback and drops a couple notches for this. The comeback race was his sixth straight third-place finish.

He, too, will get a stalking trip here, and he has had three workouts since his last start. A 7-year-old gelding, he has the biggest bankroll in the field with $134,640.

Small fields for stakes

The weekend's two stakes races may have small fields.

A B Noodle and Hippogator, winners of the meet's first two stakes for older fillies and mares, will meet again Saturday in the $55,000-added Santa Clara Handicap at one mile.

One day before the draw, they were the only runners among the 14 nominees committed to running, but the California-bred Super High may come north from Southern California for the race, which includes $16,500 in Cal-bred bonuses that make the race attractive to her.

Trainer Bobby Frankel said Wednesday he will send only Snorter north for Monday's Grade 3, $100,000 Seabiscuit Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/16 miles. He originally considered sending Nose the Trade as well.