05/13/2002 11:00PM

Opinion is premium in this race


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Horse racing is a game of opinions, and Thursday's feature at Bay Meadows is a race crying out for a strong opinion.

The one-mile turf allowance feature for nonwinners of two races appears a wide open race. The difference between the best Beyer Speed Figures for six of the eight entrants is a scant five points.

Handicappers with a strong opinion on the race stand to make a healthy profit - if they are correct.

Only two runners in the field have turf victories, and one of them, Sharp Boi, has a 1-for-26 career record.

But before he gets dismissed, consider that he is coming off a lifetime best Beyer and a strong second against similar foes over the course.

The only other turf winner is Aly Aly O, who was 5 when he made his debut this year. He has run three times, winning his maiden in his last start with a wire-to-wire effort at this distance on the turf, and he also ran a career-high Beyer.

Saintly Act erupted in his last start, closing fast to lose by only a neck on the turf at Santa Anita against a stronger field. He has the added advantage of making his third start following a layoff.

Casperius See made his turf debut in the same race in which Saintly Act ran second. Casperius See showed good speed, competing on a contentious pace and leading after six furlongs before fading.

Snoopy Cat showed little in his turf debut, but his rivals that day were probably better than those he is facing here. He is only a 3-year-old and meets older, but he also has had two improved works since his last start and gets a break in the weights both for his age and with apprentice rider Francisco Duran aboard. He will receive a 15-pound advantage from his older rivals.

The other three members of the field will be making their turf debuts, but that can often be the time to cash in big on a runner who turns out to be superior on turf.

Lake Arrowhead has run poorly in two starts against winners, but he has had a six-week freshener, adds blinkers, and has the highest Tomlinson rating, suggesting strong turf breeding, in the field.

Showyourclass tries two new things in the race. It will be his first attempt at a route and his turf debut. But he has the second-highest Tomlinson rating and a trainer in Bill Morey who shows a flat-bet profit with his first-time starters on turf as well as with his horses stretching out from a sprint to a route.

A Major Pleasure is another 3-year-old in the field and the only stakes-placed runner in the bunch with third-place finishes in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship and the Florida Stallion Stakes. A Major Pleasure is making his third start after a five-month layoff, another plus.

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