Updated on 09/16/2011 8:12AM

South City back in for a tag

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - It's back to reality Wednesday at Bay Meadows for trainer Kent Molinaro when he sends out South City against seven rivals in a $40,000 optional claiming race at six furlongs.

Molinaro saddled Profound Secret, his best horse, to win Sunday's $64,050 Big Jag Handicap. Molinaro purchased the 8-year-old Profound Secret for $75,000 as a 2-year-old and seen him win $478,450.

South City is a more typical Molinaro trainee. He was claimed for $10,500 on March 25, 2001, by Molinaro and his father, Robert, who owns Profound Secret. South City has won 3 of 6 starts since being claimed and was second twice, both times beaten less than a length. He ran fourth in his other start on Oct. 3, 2001, before going to the sidelines for more than nine months.

"He had a little problem. He strained a ligament in a hind leg," Molinaro said.

Despite a solid win percentage and good success with claims, Molinaro operates a small stable. One secret to his success is placing his horses where they can win.

After claiming South City, he brought him back two months later for a $6,250 tag. There were no takers and South City won by 4 1/2 lengths.

He runs for a tag for the first time since then Wednesday, when he goes for $40,000.

Molinaro took an unusual approach in bringing South City back this year. South City's first start was in the Santa Rosa Marathon Handicap, an 870-yard mixed breed race on July 28. He sat off the pace and won easily. His next start was in a $12,500 starter allowance race on Aug. 24 in Sacramento, where he finished second to the sharp Johnny Be Good after the two dueled down the stretch.

"The horse that beat him ran good for $40- or $50,000 down south," Molinaro said.

Wednesday's race is South City's third off a layoff. Many handicappers believe the third start is often a horse's best.

"I hope that's right," Molinaro said. "I've never understood that. Either you can get them ready or you can't. Of course, a lot depends on the horse and whether he puts a lot into his works."

Molinaro is confident that South City is in good shape after his game try in Sacramento, but has one concern: "I hope he still fits with these," Molinaro said. "He ran well at this level last year."

South City enters the race with the best last-race Beyer. Mango Marquerita, who set the pace before finishing third behind the talented Cottonwood Cowboy, looms the main competition.

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