10/18/2004 11:00PM

Two can challenge Mashiko


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Handicappers relying on recent form may be in a quandary when analyzing Thursday's Bay Meadows feature, a first-level allowance race at six furlongs.

is the lone member of the six-horse field to show improvement in a recent start. But he may be suspect after a career-best Beyer Speed Figure that saw him improve 16 points in a $32,000 starter allowance victory in his first start since arriving from Emerald Downs.

Two runners who offer interesting credentials are Jamican Blue and King Wonderful, who drew the rail and the outside post, respectively.

Jamican Blue, coming off two knee surgeries, will make his first start since Jan. 30. He has three wins, a second, and two thirds in six career starts.

"He's a very nice horse," said trainer Lloyd Mason, who claimed the 4-year-old gelding for $32,000 on Jan. 2.

"After we ran him one time, we X-rayed him, and took a chip from each knee.

"The owner took him home to Washington and gave him time to recover, then swam him for 45 days before beginning to jog him. I started breezing him right away and worked him easy."

Jamican Blue, who graduated in his lone start at Bay Meadows, has not missed a work for Mason, who wins 37 percent first race off a layoff, with a $4.38 flat-bet profit on his comebackers.

King Wonderful comes off a troubled trip in a first-level allowance race than was much tougher than Thursday's.

He also didn't draw the rail for the first time in four starts. The last time he got an outside draw he won, albeit for a $12,500 claiming price. Since then he's been second twice for $25,000 and fourth in his last start, at this allowance level.

"He has speed, but you don't have to send like you do from the 1 hole," trainer Jedd Josephson said. "When you're outside, you can lay second or third and have options."

King Wonderful will likely be on the lead, though, after having the lead at the first call in nine of his past 10 starts.

Josephson said he considered starting King Wonderful once before Thursday's race but held back to give the 5-year-old gelding a little extra time after four races in a two-month span.

The outside post should also help King Wonderful to avoid the shadows around the turn that bothered him in the last start, as he shied from some and jumped others, something he could ill afford in a tough race.