Updated on 09/15/2011 1:04PM

Super Quercus faces two toughies


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Super Quercus, a Grade 1 winner, heads a field of six in the $200,000, Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on the grass at Bay Meadows Saturday.

In addition to Super Quercus, the field includes the two-time Grade 2 winner Takarian and the Grade 2 winner Sign of Hope.

This will be the 69th Bay Meadows Handicap, the oldest continuously run stakes in California.

Super Quercus, a 5-year-old with only 14 career starts, is trained by Bobby Frankel and seems to be sitting on a top effort. He has raced only twice since January, both times at the 2001 Del Mar meeting, finishing third in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Handicap and then a closer third in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap. It is a positive sign that this lightly-raced horse is coming back in less than a month.

He scored his Grade 1 victory at age 3, in the 1999 Hollywood Derby. He raced only three times in 2000. Russell Baze will be aboard.

The main threat is probably Takarian, who is coming off a ninth-place finish in the Arlington Million over a yielding turf course. That race can easily be overlooked, both because of the tough competition and the condition of the course. Takarian may better be evaluated on the basis of his excellent previous form, including a win in the Grade 2 American Handicap at Hollywood Park July 4 and a loss by a neck in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap July 28.

Takarian, from the Beau Greely stable, also won the American Handicap in 1999. He has experience over the Bay Meadows turf, winning the 1998 Bay Meadows Derby. That victory, incidentally, was the first stakes win of Greely's career.

Although Saturday's race appears to be basically a two-horse battle between Super Quercus and Takarian, Sign of Hope also has to be considered.

Sign of Hope, a 4-year-old, has not started since November, and will be facing older foes for the first time.

Still, Sign of Hope showed plenty of ability at 3, winning the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby and finishing third in the Grade 3 La Jolla in his four U.S. starts. In his last start, on Nov. 26, he finished 11th in the Hollywood Derby.

Neil Drysdale, who trains Sign of Hope, knows how to get a horse ready. The workout pattern looks solid and a good effort is likely.