09/12/2001 11:00PM

SoCal shipper looks good at Bay Meadows

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Mike and Leo, a 3-year-old who has won three of his last four starts at Southern California, rates top billing in a field of seven in the $32,000 allowance feature at Bay Meadows Friday night.

Mike and Leo apparently has more than his share of physical problems, but it is a positive sign that trainer Bob Hess Jr. is sending him here to run in a claim-proof race. On May 24, he won a $62,500 claiming race at Hollywood Park. About five weeks later trainer Michael Machowsky dropped him in for $32,000 - the first indication that all was not quite right - and he won again by 3 1/2 lengths. Next, Machowsky ran him right back for $32,000 at Del Mar, but that time he lugged out and faded to last in a field of six, and was claimed by Hess.

Hess waited more than five weeks before running him back for the same $32,000 tag and he won again by two lengths while drifting out again. He will be tough to beat as long as he holds together.