03/14/2006 12:00AM

Robert E has key post

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ALBANY, Calif. - There's no absence of early speed in Thursday's Golden Gate Fields feature, a six-furlong $32,000 claimer.

Robert E and Colonel Courtney both love gunning for the lead and forcing their opposition to wilt.

Twentythreejaybird has hooked some rocket ships of late but has plenty of speed and is quite capable of going wire to wire. Abuse of Power and Arch Stanton also have speed, although they are stalkers.

With all the speed, Tonco, the lone off-the-pace runner in the field, figures to be a real threat.

But as handicappers know, conventional logic doesn't always apply when speed is involved.

, who drew the outside post in the field of six, appears to be the speed of the speed. That may be more important than the way a hot pace could set things up for Tonco.

Robert E's four-race win streak was snapped in his first start for trainer Billy Morey, who claimed him for $40,000 in his previous start. Morey is dropping Robert E from a $50,000 optional claimer at one mile back into a sprint.

Robert E didn't graduate until he was 5, but he has turned things around since getting his maiden win. His recent four-race winning streak came for three different trainers, but in the same manner.

Whether sprinting or routing, as he's done in his past two starts, Robert E likes the front end, and he has a tenacity in the lane that makes him tough to pass. His two victories in northern California both came by a nose.

has quickness as well as speed and even ran in an open Quarter Horse stakes two starts ago. Back in northern California, he went wire to wire at Golden Gate on Feb. 24 and was claimed.

Robert E's outside post gives him the option to draft a bit in case Colonel Courtney or Twenty-threejaybird wants to set suicidal fractions, and the outside is a tactical advantage for speed horses and may provide the slight edge that could carry Robert E to the winner's circle.

doesn't have the same win percentage as his speedier rivals, despite $283,045 in earnings. He has gone winless the past 29 starts after going 6 for his first 28.

Even though the race seems to set up for him, he seems best considered on the lower end of exotics rather than on the win end.