05/19/2003 11:00PM

Stakes vet Mac Melody looks good

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Trainer Dean Pederson gets a quick start on what could be a big day for him in Thursday's first race at Bay Meadows.

Pederson, who is winning at a 30 percent clip this year, sends out three horses, each of whom could be a strong contender, on the day's eight-race card.

His best chance, though, may come in the first race, which is also the day's feature event, a $62,500 optional claimer for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on the turf. Only five are in the race.

Pederson will run Mac Melody, an Irish-bred who won a $75,400 listed stakes race in Italy last year before shipping to the United States.

Mac Melody won two starts in Italy and was second in one race in Great Britain before being bought by her present owners. She has run six times in the United States - all in stakes races.

Mac Melody was sent to Pederson from Southern California before her last start, a fourth-place finish in the San Jose Stakes on April 13.

"Her race on the dirt [in the San Jose] was about what we expected going into a race where we didn't know what to expect," Pederson said.

"She drew an outside post, and I told [jockey Adalberto Lopez] to stay wide to avoid dirt hitting her face. When she saw some daylight, she was very aggressive, and she finished evenly in a race where they went pretty fast late. It wasn't a bad race, especially on a surface that is not her preference."

If Mac Melody runs Thursday as Pederson expects, the $75,000 Bay Meadows Oaks on June 14 could be in her future. If she doesn't, he will examine other possibilities.

Recent maiden winner Wild Girl will set the pace, with Can I Call You Dad, who beat Wild Girl in an April 10 maiden turf race, in close pursuit. China Princess, Can I Call You Dad's stablemate, may also be a pace factor in her route and turf debut. Sanibel Sunset, third in the San Jose, and Mac Melody will be factors late.

Pederson is happy to have the chance to run his filly at the allowance level.

"Timing-wise, she's had enough time to rebound," he said.

Mac Melody has worked four times since the San Jose, recording two bullets, including a 59.80 five-furlong move last Thursday.

"To me, if you have a decent horse and if you're able to point for a race and everything falls into place, that's what training's all about," Pederson said.

Also Thursday for Pederson, Water Issues will make her debut in an $8,000 maiden claimer and Santiago Rojo runs in a $12,500 sprint.