03/04/2003 1:00AM

Signs say Peace Rules will run


ALBANY, Calif. - It appears likely that Peace Rules, a graded stakes winner on the turf, will run in Saturday's $200,000 Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields.

Trainer Bobby Frankel put off an official announcement Tuesday but said Victor Espinoza would ride the colt if entered. Later, on during a national conference call about the El Camino Real and the Louisiana Derby, Espinoza said he planned to be at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday and Fair Grounds on Sunday.

The field for Saturday's 1 1/16-mile race increased by one on Tuesday when trainer Brian Koriner said he would enter Onebadshark, who was second to the speedy Zayed on Jan. 30 in his 3-year-old debut. Onebad-shark, a Triple Crown nominee, will make his first start around two turns in the El Camino Real.

Still on the fence is Southern Image, who beat Ministers Wild Cat in a maiden race last December and then ran third behind Kafwain in the Grade 2 San Vicente on Feb. 1 at Santa Anita.

Ministers Wild Cat won the Golden State Mile here on Feb. 9 in his third start. During Tuesday's conference call, trainer Neil Drysdale said he's approaching Saturday's race much as he did the Golden State Mile - as a learning experience for his horse.

"I am happy with him," Drysdale said. "Obviously, he's lacking experience. We're trying to get that into him and see if he's up to the Triple Crown."

Ministers Wild Cat got some of that experience winning the Golden State Mile. Although Ministers Wild Cat seemed ready to take off down the backstretch, jockey Kent Desormeaux restrained him until the stretch.

"He did get banged around [while in traffic], and that was good for him," Drysdale said. "Each race, he's matured mentally by leaps and bounds. I was pleased the way he came out of it. I expect to see progress."

If Ministers Wild Cat runs well enough Saturday, he will be pointed to the Santa Anita Derby or Wood Memorial, said Drysdale.

Drysdale said that if he isn't satisfied with the condition of the track here Saturday, he would scratch Ministers Wild Cat and run in next weekend's San Felipe Handicap at Santa Anita.

* Thermal Ablasion seeks her fourth straight victory in Thursday's feature, a six-furlong, $50,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares. Gyrene, who just lost by a nose against similar after scoring an allowance victory, will be her top competition.