01/27/2004 12:00AM

Trio together again in turf mile


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The distance will be a little longer, the price tags a bit higher, and the venue may have changed, but the competition will be the same when I'm All Yours, Last Stand, and Marco's Word renew acquaintances in Thursday's $40,000 optional claiming feature at Gulfstream Park. The race will be decided at a mile on the turf.

finished one-two-three going 7 1/2 furlongs under slightly cheaper optional claiming conditions at Calder on Dec. 28. I'm All Yours rallied from the back of the pack to catch the pacesetting Last Stand in the final strides that afternoon with Marco's Word finishing another nose behind in third.

Last Stand is the only member of that group to have run again, finishing a strong second behind the favored Kathir while stretching out to 1 1/16 miles here Jan. 9. Trainer David Fawkes believes his horse is doing well enough to turn the tables on I'm All Yours.

"I think he's a better horse now than he was the first time this group met," said Fawkes. "He had a few problems in behind when he returned from Kentucky, which we addressed, and his last two races have been great. One thing about this horse is that he tries all the way to the wire, and as long as they let him relax even a little bit he's going to be very tough to beat."

Jerry Bailey, who rode Last Stand for the first time three weeks ago, gets the return call.

I'm All Yours has every right to move forward off his Calder victory, which came in his first start in nearly 14 months. A multiple stakes winner against New York-breds, I'm All Yours had done the bulk of his racing at nine furlongs the past two seasons but is a capable miler, having won three of his four career starts at the distance.

Marco's Word was the tepid 3-1 favorite when this group met last month but will likely offer a bit more value the second time around. A versatile sort who may be even more dangerous on dirt, Marco's Word once again figures to get a perfect stalking trip under Cornelio Velasquez.

Both Al's Dearly Bred and Supah Blitz seek to rebound from disappointing performances in the Grade 3 Appleton Handicap. Al's Dearly Bred is a proven miler who won a pair of overnight stakes last summer in the Midwest.

Supah Blitz has started just six times since finishing 13th in the 2003 Kentucky Derby. He raced far back throughout while returning from a four-month vacation in the Appleton.