03/18/2003 1:00AM

Powerful Appeal owns top figs

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - On paper, Thursday's $38,000 feature at Gulfstream Park looks like a wide-open race. But anybody who saw Powerful Appeal's last performance will have little trouble deciding who to wager on in this second-level allowance race, scheduled for nine furlongs on the turf.

Powerful Appeal ran one of the most game races of the meeting, finishing second behind the odds-on Reduit going 1 1/2 miles on the grass on March 1. Running into the teeth of a blistering pace, yet still able to easily hold off all but Reduit, who benefited from the torrid early fractions to draw off to a popular victory.

Powerful Appeal has now turned in two consecutive solid starts for trainer Patrick Reynolds. In his previous start, he led in midstretch before finishing third behind the red-hot Quest Star and Reduit under similar second-level allowance conditions. He also owns the top lifetime Beyer Speed Figure both on turf (95) and at the distance (93) of the race's 10 entrants.

Reynolds again has Roger Velez riding.

Separating the rest of the field is a more difficult task.

Restage, L.A. Albert, and Cap are all stepping up in company off game first-level allowance victories.

Restage and Cap were trying turf for the first time when they rallied from just off the pace to score wins here last month, and they figure to move forward off those efforts. L.A. Albert, on the other hand, has not started since earning a career-best 93 Beyer back on Sept. 9.

Maumee drops out of stakes company and back to the allowance ranks trying to repeat his promising U.S. debut, in which he was an impressive come-from-behind, two-length winner over entry-level allowance foes in the opening week of the meet.

Be a Smooth Talker, Camp David, and Dancer Cielo have all been knocking on the door against second-level allowance foes here this winter. Camp David was Group 3 placed in Europe earlier in his career and appears to be coming up to perhaps his best race since arriving in the U.S. He will be making the third start of his current form cycle.

Westcliffe was graded stakes placed in New York last spring for trainer Christophe Clement. He is also expected to improve on Thursday when making his second start since finishing a well-beaten fifth to close out his 3-year-old campaign in the Rushing Man Stakes last Sept. 13 at Meadowlands.

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