03/04/2005 12:00AM

Rare plethora of exotic bets

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Bay Meadows will be the place for exotics players to be Sunday.

It may not sound like much, but enough horses have been entered so that, barring scratches, trifecta wagering will be available in all nine races on the card, and the day ends with superfectas in the final five races. California rules call for a minimum of six horses in a race to allow for trifecta wagering and eight for superfectas.

There was a time when a nine-race card that attracted 76 runners would be scorned, but, in this day, when there seems to be short fields on every card, 76 runners - and multiple exotics opportunities - is cause for excitement.

In terms of quality, however, the card isn't much - eight claiming races and only one non-claiming event, a 1 1/16-mile $40,000 starter allowance for fillies and mares slated for the turf.

All runners in the race have only a maiden victory, and Charcoal Canyon, who may be the one to beat, has run 22 times.

With heavy rain Friday, there is no telling if the race will even stay on the turf, adding yet another handicapping complication.

A strong contender is comebacker Lycius Life, whose lone victory was in a straight maiden race here. This filly has always run well fresh and has a solid, steady work pattern for leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who gets leading jockey Russell Baze to ride.

Charcoal Canyon, who graduated for a $32,000 tag two starts back then ran sixth in the $100,000 Brown Bess Handicap, comes in with the best last-race Beyer Speed Figure. Tea Dancing makes her third start off a layoff, and her lone career victory came in her third start, so she, too, could be worth a look, and at a big price.

Moyanna, who broke slowly and didn't really threaten against better last time, is back at the level at which she lost a photo two starts ago.

* Fifty-two 3-year-olds were nominated to northern California's top Kentucky Derby prep, the Grade 3, $200,000 El Camino Real Derby, to be run next Saturday at 1 1/16 miles.