12/31/2004 1:00AM

Small claim pays off for Wallace


ALBANY, Calif. - Ninetenthsofthelaw may be trainer Ronnie Wallace's greatest success.

A 6-year-old gelding, Ninetenthsofthelaw will be tough to beat when he takes on seven rivals in Sunday's Golden Gate Fields feature, a six-furlong first-level allowance race.

Wallace claimed Ninetenthsof-thelaw for $4,000 on Sept. 10, 2003. His partner asked Wallace if he would buy him out, and Wallace did. Three days later, Ninetenthsofthelaw won a $12,500 claimer.

won four of 10 starts in 2004, including a $25,000 claimer in his last start Dec. 16. In all, he has won five of 14 starts since being claimed and earned $70,613.

"I needed some horses to get stalls, and I looked around and saw a horse I thought might improve with blinkers added," Wallace said.

Wallace is usually forced to claim horses for himself, but says he doesn't mind because he hopes his success will be recognized and that he'll attract new owners.

Wallace is adept at moving horses up. Because his stable is small, he gives his horses plenty of attention. Ninetenthsofthelaw has foot problems that keep Wallace busy, but Wallace uses the skills he acquired as a surgical technician to help care for his horses while avoiding as much medication as possible. The personal attention particularly helped with Ninetenthsofthelaw.

"He responds to freshening," Wallace said. "Every time he runs, he runs hard. You can hook him, but if you don't head him early, he's tough to get by. If you don't give a horse time, they'll make you wait forever."

Ninetenthsofthelaw does have one quirk. He will often slow down late because he knows where the wire is, so Wallace reminds his riders that they have to remain alert late.

Ninetenthsofthelaw drew the rail and has a lot of speed outside him. Reality Mine, Peppered Cat, and King Wonderful also have keen early speed. Reality Mine ran two ticks faster than Ninetenthsofthelaw's winning time when he won a $40,000 starter allowance Dec. 15.

A speed duel could set things up for Slewcious or comebacking Good Fella, who will be ridden by Joe Castro, who has four wins aboard Ninetenthsofthelaw this year.

* In the companion feature, seven fillies and mares will meet in a one-mile first-level allowance. Brazilian import Juliet will be making her second U.S. start and first career try around two turns. She has two strong works since her U.S. debut at Hollywood Park.