12/20/2007 12:00AM

Stellar Magic looks live off last

EmailALBANY, Calif. - Stellar Magic was down to his last strike in a $12,500 claiming race on Nov. 15. Stellar Magic had not won a race in 11 starts since the $100,000 San Mateo Mile on Feb.o12, 2005, and had undergone three long breaks in training for a variety of knee and ankle problems.

Trainer Brian Pitnick said that he was prepared to retire Stellar Magic if he didn't run well last month. But the 5-year-old gelding recaptured the magic, making a strong move on the second turn of the one-mile race and pulling away from field.

Stellar Magic returns in a full field of 10 in Saturday's Golden Gate Fields feature, a $25,000 claimer at one mile.

Stellar Magic is Pitnick's only stakes winner and has a special place in his trainer's heart. He still seems to enjoy running, said Pitnick, who has been careful about spotting him. He passed a $16,000 claimer to give him extra time after his win and is running him for $25,000 Saturday only because several attempts to run Stellar Magic for a $20,000 tag failed when the races didn't fill.

"I'm not deluding myself," Pitnick said. "I don't think the field last time was all that strong, but I liked the way he ran. He looked like his old self. I don't know where his level is."

Maybe it was the easier competition. Maybe it was the synthetic Tapeta surface. Whatever it was, Stellar Magic thrived and comes into Saturday's race with the field's highest last-race Beyer on the main track, an 82.

The victory may have given Stellar Magic renewed confidence, although Pitnick said, "He's always been the boss around the barn.

"I give a lot of credit to [jockey] Macario Rodriquez," Pitnick said. "He rode him perfectly last time. I gave him specific instructions because I felt things had to set up perfectly for him. Hopefully, he won't need things his own way this time. I hope that last race woke him up."

Alottadar has won two straight, both on the turf, and will be making his debut on a synthetic surface. He earned an 83 Beyer for winning a $25,000 claimer last out, using his usual stalking style, and will be a strong contender again.

Other contenders are Touchdown Call, Nineleventurbo, and the stakes winner Corvallis Dee, one-two-three in a similar spot Nov. 29.