06/24/2002 11:00PM

'Pay Day' sees the light and steps up

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The removal of blinkers and a return to Hollywood Park have propelled Bonus Pay Day to two straight runaway victories, and he will shoot for the hat trick when he heads a field of six in Thursday's featured allowance race at Hollywood Park.

Bonus Pay Day was claimed for $32,000 on March 27 by trainer Peter Eurton, who has spent the past three months trying to get Bonus Pay Day to better conserve his energy. "He's very aggressive," Eurton said Tuesday morning at his Hollywood Park barn.

Bonus Pay Day goes to the track first thing in the morning, when there is little traffic. "He'd run off if we didn't do that," Eurton said. But the most significant adjustment Eurton has made is removing blinkers.

"I noticed he had been wearing blinkers his whole life," Eurton said. "I thought he might relax better without them," a suggestion Eurton said was first broached by jockey Kevin Krigger after he rode the Bonus Pay Day in a turf allowance race at Santa Anita on April 10.

Since then, Bonus Pay Day has been perfect. He beat a first-level California-bred allowance field by three lengths, then crushed an open first-level allowance field by 4 1/2 lengths on May 27.

"He showed a new dimension the other day," Eurton said. "There was a horse outside of him, and it didn't bother him."

Thursday's race, like the two previous, is at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, but Bonus Pay Day now must step up to face second-level open company.

If successful, he will be richly rewarded. The purse for the race is $55,000, but there is an additional $16,500 in purse money for California-breds.

Five are entered against Bonus Pay Day, including two horses who are coming off excellent efforts at this level. Wallahatchie set a sharp early pace when finishing a close third in a seven-furlong sprint on May 19. With his early speed and jockey Pat Valenzuela, he figures to try to take the track from Bonus Pay Day early.

Kela was second going 1 1/16 miles June 5. He has never finished worse than second in three starts at this track, and he showed his readiness by blowing out three furlongs in 33.40 seconds on Tuesday morning. That time was easily the best of 20 at the distance; the next-fastest time was 35 seconds.

Alfurune, like Bonus Pay Day, is seeking his third straight win, but must prove he can handle both two turns and a jump in class. Chilean import Trompolino has a right to improve after making his first start in this country five weeks ago.

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