01/31/2006 12:00AM

Out for four straight, Robert E tries mile

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - may be as sharp a horse as there is on the grounds at Bay Meadows, but he will get a stern test as he tries to extend his three-race winning streak in Thursday's feature.

The 6-year-old gelding has five rivals in the $40,000 claimer at one mile for older runners. Although there are several runners in the field with decent early speed, he should be the one to catch.

Rene Amescua claimed Robert E for $40,000 at Hollywood Park on Dec. 8. Robert E was coming off a lifetime-best Beyer Speed Figure of 98, earned winning a $32,000 claimer at six furlongs.

In the Dec. 8 race, Robert E again went wire to wire, beating Danthebluegrassman at seven furlongs with a Beyer Figure of 100.

Amescua had a race already planned when he claimed Robert E, and he ran him Dec. 30 in a first-level allowance race, which Robert E won by a nose at 3-5 over Arch Stanton.

The Beyer dropped precipitously to a 77 on the muddy track, but Amescua was as impressed by Robert E's victory as he was the day he claimed him.

"He ran game," Amescua said. "He was down on the inside and still won."

Robert E was headed at the eighth pole but battled back to reclaim the lead.

On Thursday, Amescua is returning Robert E to the claiming ranks and stretching him out to a mile. Robert E faded badly at the distance just before starting his winning streak, but Amescua is unconcerned.

"I knew the horse could get a mile when I claimed him," he said. "He's won going a mile, and, fortunately, he draws an outside post here.

Pointing out Robert E's three workouts this year at Bay Meadows, including six furlongs in 1:13.80 a week ago, Amescua said, "He's worked well here. He seems to relax nicely."

There's another reason Amescua opted for the mile instead of looking for another sprint.

"This is an easier spot," he said. "High-level sprints are really tough around here."

Robert E may have problems holding off Me My Mine, another 6-year-old gelding claimed for $40,000 at Hollywood Park two races back.

also won in his first here. He sat back early and made a well-timed run to beat Logician in a photo at Thursday's one-mile distance.

There may be just enough pressure on Robert E to allow Me My Mine to get up at the wire once again at a distance where he has never been off the board.