01/30/2002 1:00AM

Polaire well rested for try at graded victory


ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Don Burke is looking forward to Saturday's $100,000 Brown Bess Handicap at Golden Gate Fields.

He's hopeful that a six-month freshening will help Polaire earn her first American graded stakes victory when she runs in the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile turf race.

Polaire has not run since a fifth-place finish in the Modesty Handicap at Arlington Park last July 28.

"She came out of the race a little sore in front," Burke said. "I think it was a residual effect after being in training for a year and a half.

"She's very tough, but the thing about her is that she's temperamental and irascible. She got sour and sore so we backed off her."

Polaire stayed in Burke's barn at Hollywood Park, but he eased off on her. When he brought her back to the track, he noticed a difference. She got into her training more and seemed happy to be working again.

Burke considered running Polaire in the Dahlia at Hollywood Park last month but said he was "not quite happy" with her condition and opted to wait.

He considered an allowance race at Santa Anita last week but decided to run in the Brown Bess, in part, because he wants her to earn a graded victory in America to go with her Group 2 victory in the Pretty Polly Stakes in Ireland as a 2-year-old. She has one American stakes victory, in the Glendale Handicap at Turf Paradise in Phoenix last year, and was placed in a pair of Grade 1 races, the Beverly Hills at Hollywood Park and Yellow Ribbon at Santa Anita as a 3-year-old.

The Brown Bess will not be the easiest spot for a comeback with the presence of Grade 1 winner Janet in the field, but Burke said, "I think it was Bobby Frankel who said that you should never be afraid of running against one horse.

"She's training well, and I think she'll appreciate a little give in the ground."

Metatron returning

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer brings Metatron back to the races in Friday's feature, a six-furlong allowance race for 3-year-olds that will run as the day's first race.

Metatron won his debut impressively here last May 24 and hasn't won since, but he was second in the Hollywood Juvenile and the Best Pal, both Grade 3's, and third in a pair of Grade 2 races, the Del Mar Futurity and the Lane's End Futurity at Keeneland.

He was headed to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile when he became ill.

He'll be opposed by Game Set Match, Goodnews Bay, Almudin, and Hezgotanothergear.

* There will be early posts this weekend. First post Saturday is 12:15 p.m. with Sunday's first post at 11:15 a.m.