02/16/2005 1:00AM

Potential vs. form in sprint feature


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Several sharp claimers will test the allowance ranks in Friday's Bay Meadows feature, a wide-open six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares.

Juliet, Paranoid Mistress, and Future Thought are the only runners in a field of nine to have never run for a tag. But each has only won a maiden race. The other six are multiple winners against softer competition.

That provides handicappers with a quandary. Does one go for the perceived class runners or settle on a sharper runner who has passed tests against easier?

On the class side, Juliet and Paranoide Mistress seem to have the best chance.

won her debut in her native Brazil last year, but she is at a disadvantage here because she is younger than her opponents. She was born in September 2001, which makes her a 4-year-old in the United States even though she is really closer to 3. Juliet showed little in her two U.S. starts, sprinting on the turf at Hollywood Park and running a mile at Golden Gate Fields on Jan. 2. She has only one listed work in the six weeks since that race.

In her first start, was bet down to favoritism late in a Golden Gate maiden race on Jan. 28. She set a pressured pace from the inside, on a day when there was an outside bias, angled out in the lane, and prevailed in a game effort. She has two nice works since, but trainer Dean Pederson is 0 for 13 over the past 13 months with runners making their second lifetime start.

Among the claimers, Razor Barb appears the obvious pick as she makes her third start since her arrival in northern California from Canada last December. She has come from off the pace while running third and second in her two starts at Golden Gate and has the highest last-race Beyer in the field.

Juste Smile and Mahalo each has two wins over the track.

won sprinting here last spring against $12,500 claimers and stepped up to win at a mile. She has a Jan. 30 prep at Golden Gate under her belt and has a five-furlong bullet drill since that race.

Mahalo has never run a bad race, having finished on the board in all four of her starts. She won her maiden against males here in her third start last fall and followed it up with a victory against her own sex in a $32,000 starter allowance race four months ago. She has worked well since that race, but trainer Art Sherman has been winning with only 11 percent of his layoff horses.