09/11/2006 11:00PM

Solid angles in favor of 'Chestnut'


ALBANY, Calif. - Thursday's Golden Gate Fields feature presents handicappers with a situation that requires more intuition than science.

The one-mile turf race for $16,000 claimers offers proven runners such as Julies Flying Now, who is 18-4-5-5 on the turf; Zim's Blur, who is 10-3-2-1 on turf; and Thermostatic, who is 33-9-3-5 on turf.

So what should one do with Chestnut Affair? A 4-year-old filly, she makes her turf debut Thursday, stepping up a notch following a game victory in a one-mile dirt trace. Based on her Tomlinson rating of 351, an extremely high figure, the question arises: Why did it take so long to try her on the turf?

Chestnut Affair's dam scored her lone career victory on the turf, but Thursday's race will mark only the second turf start by her three foals.

Chestnut Affair's running style suggests she should enjoy the turf, where the pace is generally slow. In her past starts, she has been content to sit back and move late, which is the perfect strategy on the turf.

Chestnut Affair gets an outside draw Thursday and should be able to sit back, get over, and save ground. Best of all, since this is her turf debut, Chestnut Affair should offer betting value.

Julies Flying Now, who won at Bay Meadows in June and ran second in her last start at Santa Rosa on July 27, is 0 for 7 at Golden Gate but has three seconds and two thirds.

Zim's Blur comes north to make her third start of the year.

Thermostatic, the lone member of the field with a turf victory here, also comes north for this.

* Earlier on Thursday's card, handicappers face a different type of question when Sabi Sand returns to the races, but in a $10,000 claimer.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Sabi Sand won his debut here in June 2005 and came right back to win a first-level allowance race. He went to the sidelines for 11 months following a disappointing effort in his first try around two turns. In his comeback, he ran second to stakes winner Stone Rain and now resurfaces three months later in a lower level claimer.