05/02/2006 12:00AM

Toss out Cut the Mustard's last

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ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer O.J. Jauregui knows better than to do a lot of second-guessing. So as he prepares to send out Cut the Mustard in Thursday's Golden Gate Fields feature, he's simply looking ahead rather than dwelling on Cut the Mustard's last race, a third-place finish in the mud, a race from which Jauregui had considered scratching her.

"The last time, I thought I'd scratch her because she doesn't like the mud," Jauregui said. "But there were two other scratches that day, so I thought I would try. She didn't handle the mud at all. To me, you just have to throw that race out."

Thursday, Cut the Mustard returns in a $50,000 optional claiming race at 5 1/2 furlongs. The race has a field of five fillies and mares and goes as the first race on an eight-race card.

Jauregui claimed Cut the Mustard from Jerry Hollendorfer for $25,000 on March 2, when Cut the Mustard won by two lengths.

"She had some back class and had run well at Santa Anita," Jauregui said. "We felt Jerry was trying to win with her and gave her a little drop, so we took a shot at her."

Cut the Mustard went on to win her first start under Jauregui's care March 19, in a $50,000 optional claimer.

"She's a really nice filly, but she's a little on the nervous side, so I've tried to get everything slowed down for her," he said.

With Russell Baze aboard, Cut the Mustard should be able to establish an easy early advantage Thursday, which should make her tough to catch late. She is capable of a sub-45-second opening half-mile.

Only Gotta Go Gal has nearly that much early speed, and she has trailed Cut the Mustard early in their past two meetings.

Rounding out the field are Princess Lianna, who has recorded 4 of her 5 career victories here, She Made It Happen, and Tense Wager.

Jauregui resumed training for the first time in 12 years last winter. He had assisted Steve Miyadi before he first went out on his own.

"I jumped into the business without knowing the business," he said.

Jauregui then served as an assistant to Rodney Rash and Jack Van Berg before becoming a jockey's agent for seven years. He was Armando Lage's assistant the past four years before he went out on his own again.