10/11/2004 11:00PM

Top local juveniles face off

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - This could be the start of something big.

The sixth race on Bay Meadows's Thursday card, a six-furlong first-level allowance sprint, is the best 2-year-old race carded in northern California this year.

Four of the seven runners won their previous start, including Beat the Chalk, winner of the $100,000 Barretts Juvenile at Fairplex. Two ran second in their last race, including Danny Dingle, who was second in the San Mateo Stakes, and Magna Tice, second in the Captain Condo at Emerald Downs.

Another member of the field, Greatdayinthelake, won here in his last start.

Mazelman, considered by some the top 2-year-old prospect in northern California, makes his first start against winners after scoring his maiden victory in September. Although he is meeting a stakes winner and two stakes-place rivals, he appears the likely favorite.

Mazelman, a $200,000 Ocala February purchase, and Danny Dingle, a $100,000 Ocala April purchase, meet for the first time Thursday and seem headed along the same career path.

Kent Molinaro, who trains Mazelman, and Greg Gilchrist, who trains Danny Dingle, both believe their colts will be even better when stretched out.

Barring mishaps, they should meet again - and again - as races stretch out in northern California.

"I always felt he wanted to go farther, but we seem to have a 2-year-old program where they think six furlongs is a route and one mile is a classic distance," Gilchrist said.

Mazelman was the buzz horse when he made his debut in June, but was a disappointing fifth as the favorite. Molinaro took time before bringing Mazelman back in September for a maiden race and was rewarded with a wire-to-wire victory.

Danny Dingle raced very professionally, winning his debut as the favorite in Santa Rosa. He sat off the pace along the rail and made a strong move in the lane to win a maiden race by 1 1/4 lengths.

Both Mazelman and Danny Dingle may come from a bit off the pace here, but Mazelman will be the one Danny Dingle will have to catch late.