05/07/2002 11:00PM

Rio's Chase has best form of formful six

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Six 3-year-old colts and geldings who exhibit good current form meet in Friday night's feature race at Bay Meadows.

The six-furlong $40,000 optional claiming race has two runners who won their last starts, two others who won their next-to-last races, and two others who have been second and third in their past two starts.

Rio's Chase, trained by Bill Delia, seems the sharpest in the field after beating a $32,000 starter allowance field by four in his last start. Before that, he was second in his first race against winners after setting the pace.

While he has good speed, Rio's Chase doesn't need the lead to win. He rated nicely to score from off the pace in winning his maiden.

With an outside post in the field of six, he should be able to dictate the pace of the race.

Woodfield also comes off a victory, albeit in a $16,000 claimer, and like Rio's Chase has won two of his past three.

Nick N Court and Holy Gate were sixth and seventh, respectively, in their last race, a 1 1/16-mile turf race. Holy Gate won a maiden race in a six-furlong sprint in his previous start, while Nick N Court won at a mile for $25,000 before trying the turf.

Ultimate Hitman and Dienekes have alternated second and third in their past two starts. Ultimate Hitman, forced wide while pressing the pace as the even-money favorite, finished a head behind Dienekes at this level after beating him by a length in their previous start.

Sprint field growing

Saturday's Grade 3, $250,000 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint likely will have eight runners. Connections for Disturbingthepeace, Rapidough, Sempai, and Strike for Glory said they planned to run in the six-furlong race.

Connections for Alyzig, Explicit, Mellow Fellow, and Swept Overboard had said earlier that they would run.

The addition of Sempai, who has won four straight and was claimed for $40,000 in his last start, guarantees there will be plenty of early speed in the race. Alyzig and Explicit, who has won two straight stakes, are also speed horses.

Ian Jory said of Explicit, "If he gets the early lead, he's tough to catch, but he'll sit right off the pace, too."

* Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000 Ascot Handicap is coming up light. Highweight Six Hitter, from the powerful Bobby Frankel barn, will make his U.S. debut in the race. Doc Holiday, Lawn Mower, Van Rouge, and Blue Slew's Shoes are also listed as probables for the 1 1/16-mile turf race.

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