06/06/2005 11:00PM

Turf miles a look into the future


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - It may look like the Oceanside Stakes, but a pair of mile turf races for 3-year-olds Thursday at Hollywood Park is mostly a preview of coming attractions.

Leo Getz and Gold Bridle are the leading contenders in race 3, a nonwinners-of-one-other-than/optional $80,000 claiming race that is expected to produce starters for the $100,000 Oceanside to be run July 20, opening day of the Del Mar meeting.

In race 7, Keg Tap and Johnny High Brite race under the same conditions - a mile on turf, nonwinners-of-one/optional claimer. Win or run well, and the next stop could be the Oceanside. Races 3 and 7 both attracted eight starters. Obvious contenders are easily narrowed to a handful.

Race 3 is stronger, and led by the improving Leo Getz. Trained by Wesley Ward, followed an impressive April 14 maiden sprint win with a solid runner-up finish May 15 in a minor stakes at Golden Gate. Beaten less than two lengths by Chinese Dragon, Leo Getz relaxed on a slow pace, was no match for the odds-on winner, but finished three lengths clear of third.

Thursday's allowance fits into Ward's plans for Leo Getz. He will get a six-week rest and enter Del Mar fresh and rested. His first race at Del Mar will be opening day, in the Oceanside.

could follow a similar path. After winning 2 of 4 starts on the East Coast, he made his first start for trainer Doug O'Neill on May 25 at Hollywood Park and finished second. "I'm running him back a little quick, and he's trying turf for the first time, but we were very happy with his race," O'Neill said.

Gold Bridle pressed an above-average pace and finished four lengths clear of third. The horse that beat him, the Jay Robbins-trained Indian Country, was coming off a maiden win in which he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 99. O'Neill recognized the strength of the competition that day. "We caught a legitimate stakes horse in a first-condition allowance," he said.

Indian Country could resurface June 18 in the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap, while O'Neill is eager to see if Gold Bridle handles the transition to turf. Other starters in race 3 include Brooklime, In Excelsis, Steal Your Thunder, Starstone, Raise a Tune, and Chant for Gold.

In race 7, Keg Tap adds blinkers after a modest third-place finish in his first start at Hollywood Park. He faces Johnny High Brite, winner of a California-bred nonwinners-of-one last out on dirt.