04/14/2006 12:00AM

Taco Willy steadily improving


ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Gloria Buckridge has had one of the best meets of her career at Golden Gate Fields this spring, and on Sunday her big horse will get to run at the meet for the first time, in a $31,000 allowance at a mile on turf.

is coming off a victory in a $32,000 optional claimer March 3 at Santa Anita, a race that was scheduled for turf but moved to the main track.

A 5-year-old gelding, he was claimed by Buckridge on Jan. 21, 2005, with partners Carol Anderson and John Lee. He has run well for Buckridge, earning $88,965 in 16 starts, winning four races and hitting the board in 12.

"He's maturing and getting better, and I'm not sure how good he can become," said Buckridge, who has won with 6 of 25 starters at the meet, hitting the board with 14 runners. "He's just the kind of horse that didn't run well at 2 or 3."

Taco Willy won the first ever turf race at Santa Rosa, running 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.32. His time held up until the closing weekend of the meeting, when Adreamisborn won the $100,000 Joseph T. Grace Handicap.

The big question surrounding the race is where it will be run. Although listed for turf, rainy weather has made the course virtually unusable, and the race may be switched to the main track.

"He'll only run on the turf," said Buckridge.

Buckridge understands the value of patience, even though she thinks this would be a good spot for Taco Willy. She was willing to run him on the main track at Santa Anita on March 3, but said she worries that the main track here may be too hard.

"There's a little overnight stakes April 29, but I'd like to run here in this condition," she said.

An overflow field of 12 has been entered for Sunday's race. With the rail scheduled to be placed at 20 feet, only eight runners can start, with four also-eligibles listed.

, who dead-heated for second behind Datzig in a 1 1/8-mile race in their last start, are scheduled to meet again. Also entered is turf specialist Sands of Time, who finished ahead of Taco Willy when they last met, on Dec. 11.

No More Borsch stretches out for the first time after winning a $40,000 starter allowance sprint last time.