01/16/2004 1:00AM

Tonco and Club Forty One clash on turf


ALBANY, Calif. - Tonco and Club Forty One, two runners who have transcended supposed limitations in turf breeding, are the ones to beat in Sunday's Golden Gate Fields feature, a $50,000 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Tonco, who has four wins, a second, and a third in seven turf starts, is the only member of the six-horse field running for a tag.

His last win came at this level on Oct. 30 at Bay Meadows. He should stalk Constant Thunder early and get first run.

Club Forty One has won two of three starts over the turf here and beat Tonco in his last start when second to Gold Ruckus.

Yougottawanna, best known for upsetting Officer in the 2001 Cal Cup Juvenile before winning the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby in 2002, is the only other member of the field with a turf victory.

Baze return pushed back

Jockey Russell Baze, winner of 400 races a year every year but one since 1992, will probably not return to riding until Jan. 28.

Baze ranks fourth on the career all-time victory list with 8,484. He suffered a displaced fracture of his right collarbone on Nov. 30 and hoped to be released to ride after visiting a doctor Thursday. He planned to ride for the first time on Thursday, but his comeback was pushed back one more week to allow the bone to mend fully. He now hopes to be allowed to begin working horses next weekend.

Eye of the Tiger is okay

Eye of the Tiger did not adapt well to a soft turf course on Thursday, in a race that was a prep for the Feb. 7 Grade 2 Strub Stakes at Santa Anita. He ran an even fourth in his grass debut and was never a factor in a one-mile $80,000 optional claimer.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said Eye of the Tiger came out of the race in good shape and still will be pointed to the 1 1/8-mile Strub.

"I couldn't get him to stay on his proper lead," jockey Ron Warren Jr. said. "I had to kind of peck at him and had to ride him from the seven-eighths pole. I didn't push on him down the lane, and he seemed to come back fine. When he runs big next time, people will forget this.

"I think there's a big difference between good horses and good turf horses. Good horses can win on the turf, but if they're not a true grass horse, they won't adapt to a soft condition like this."

Onebadshark gives one good effort

A new star might have been unveiled on Wednesday's card - Onebadshark, who is trained by Brian Koriner.

Running against four stakes winners and a highly regarded import from Chile, Onebadshark ran away from the rest of the field in a $50,000 optional claimer at six furlongs, beating stakes winner Texas Chili by 3 1/2 lengths in 1:08.76.

Onebadshark sat behind Steves Remark and Sempai, who cut out fast fractions, rallied three wide to take the lead into the stretch and pulled away.

"It's exciting," Koriner said. "I really liked the post draw with all the speed inside him. It gave him a chance to sit in a good position. There were some of the better horses on the grounds in there, and he won easily."

Koriner thinks the 4-year-old Florida-bred colt Onebadshark would fit perfectly in the Grade 3, $100,000 Berkeley Handicap at a mile here on March 27 but will look for a race for him before then.

Koriner had a big day Wednesday. Earlier on the card, he won with Raider Nation - who carries the Oakland Raiders' colors - in a $40,000 starter allowance at 5 1/2 furlongs.

"He's a teeny horse, a compact model, and this may be the best distance for him," Koriner said. "I still think he could route on the turf."