03/29/2005 12:00AM

Sir Toasty on upswing in puzzler

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Thursday's Bay Meadows feature is at one of the most interesting levels offered at the track: $40,000 starter allowance.

The race, for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles, has seven entrants - three coming in directly off maiden victories. Two entrants have yet to try a two-turn race.

To run, an entrant must have started for a claiming price of $40,000 or less and have not won two races.

"You've got only $25,000 nonwinners-of-two or this spot," said trainer David Chase, who will saddle Sir Toasty. "Any other race you enter, you might go up against someone who has won five times."

Chase is using the race partly as a measuring stick for Sir Toasty.

"I want to see where he stands," he said. "There is a sprint stakes here for Cal-breds, and there are also a couple spots in the Gold Rush," a series of California-bred races at Hollywood Park April 24.

Sir Toasty returns Thursday off only 12 days' rest and is stretching out for the first time.

On the plus side, his Beyer Speed Figures have improved in each of his five career starts.

"I've always liked him," Chase said. "His breeding is to go long. He's improved every time. He's learned a lot from racing that he didn't learn in the morning."

Sir Toasty's maiden win came for a $16,000 claiming tag on Feb. 17. He had problems early, but made up nearly nine lengths in the final quarter-mile and won by 2 1/2 lengths.

"That was very impressive, to make up that distance," said Chase.

Sir Toasty returned in a $40,000 starter allowance on March 19, and ran third. "He came back in one of the saltiest starter allowance races they've run," Chase said.

Also stretching out in Thursday's race is the Art Sherman-trained Royalty Louis. Sherman claimed him for $20,000 at Golden Gate Fields on Jan. 30. Royalty Louis won his maiden in his next start, on March 5 at Bay Meadows, for a $16,000 tag.

Trainer Ed Moger Jr., enjoying one of the best meets of his career, sends out two proven routers, Dances With Czars, who recently graduated for $16,000, and Swift Kato.

Dances With Czars ran against straight maidens as a 2-year-old. He was gelded and given two months off. When he came back he won a maiden race by a nose at Bay Meadows Feb. 24.