04/25/2002 11:00PM

Two seek change of pace


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Trainers Steve Specht and Gil Matos are each hoping for better pace scenarios for their horses Sunday when they run in the $55,000-added San Carlos Handicap at Bay Meadows.

Specht wants to see his speedy I'madrifter run freer earlier in the one-mile race than he did in the Grade 2 Berkeley Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on March 30. And Matos wants to see his closer Takin It Deep run a little slower early than he did in the same race.

The speedy I'madrifter drew the rail in the field of nine older horses, while Takin It Deep drew post 4. Probable favorite Boss Ego, who ran second in the Berkeley, drew post 6.

Also entered are Out of Mind, Anstar, Sirpa, Prodigious, Moonlight Meeting, and Secret Launch.

Specht has only one way to go with I'madrifter - fast early.

"I don't have to be on the lead," he said, "but don't choke [I'madrifter] down.

"The last time there was a lot of speed, and I told the rider [Jose Arriaga] not to ding-dong it on the lead. I think he overdid it. When you see a horse with his head down and his neck bowed, it's not [good]. It's restricting his breathing and discouraging him when he wants to run.

"Some horses just don't want to be discouraged from running," he added. "The time before, in the mud going a mile and a sixteenth, he was a second faster at every pole.

"I think it took too much out of the horse. He won't be choked down this time. I think he'll run a good race. When he fires, he can be pretty tough."

Matos considered running Takin It Deep in one of the Gold Rush Day Cal-bred stakes races at Hollywood Park on Sunday, but decided to stay home.

"I was thinking of sending him to a race down south, but he's never been a great shipper," Matos said.

Takin It Deep won the biggest race of his and Matos's career one year ago at Bay Meadows, when he took the California Derby with a late charge.

"I hope the racetrack plays the same way as last year," he said.

Takin It Deep is at his best when he makes one late run.

"I think he came out so strong [in the Berkeley] that he was laying a little closer than he should have," Matos said. "If he gives it to you early, you're not going to get as much late.

"I'm not making excuses, but I'd like to see him lay farther off the pace. This will be the same kind of horses he's been running against. It's the type of race anyone can win."

The first two of them, a second in the Go for Wand and a win in the Personal Ensign, were dandy, and the Go for Wand prompted her private purchase by WinStar Farm.

But Pompeii concluded her season with a decent, if somewhat disappointing fifth in the Spinster Stakes, and a disastrous last-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

"I'm the guy who had her when she got beat," joked Elliott Walden, who took over Pompeii's training before the Spinster.

Walden gave Pompeii what he described as a much-needed winter rest after the Breeders' Cup, and has been pleased with Pompeii's physical condition this spring.

For now, Walden and WinStar will spot Pompeii in races they think she fits, rather than taking shots at Grade 1's.

"The pressure's off," Walden said. "She's won the Grade 1. We can try to make some money with her."

Meanwhile, Pretty Gale's connections, owner Russell Reineman, trainer Bobby Springer, and jockey Larry Sterling, have been making plenty of money this meet. Sterling is the runaway leading rider, while Springer and Reineman have won a pair of stakes, one with Pretty Gale and the Illinois Derby with War Emblem, Pretty Gale's younger brother.

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