01/04/2005 12:00AM

Vazquez duo packs punch

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NEW ORLEANS - The entry of Thunder Bullet and Bay Marvel heads a solid field of turf sprinters in Thursday's feature race at Fair Grounds, a $34,000 optional claimer at 5 1/2 furlongs.

is the turf specialist in the Gamaliel Vazquez-trained entry. A 6-year-old Valid Wager gelding, Thunder Bullet has not won since owner Michael Gill claimed him for $100,000 in Dec. 2003 at Hollywood Park, but he has raced well in better company, including a third in a similar race last out at Fair Grounds. His entrymate, Forty Milito, won that race.

"Thunder Bullet ran a hell of a race last time," said Vazquez. "My other horse won the race, and I didn't want to run them together again."

is a new member of the barn, claimed by Gill out of a winning race at Fair Grounds on Dec. 3. A 6-year-old Prospect Bay gelding, Bay Marvel has never run on the grass but always turns in a game effort and will be tough if he takes to the new surface.

"We'll see how he goes," he said. "We might run them both or just the one, because I have Bay Marvel pointed to another race, as well.

"His running style suits this turf course, which is tough on speed horses," Vazquez said of Bay Marvel. "He has a stalking style that should keep him in good position."

The field has attracted several other interesting runners. Abderian's lone victory in nine 2004 starts was a stakes, the $100,000 Turf Monster at Philadelphia Park. He ran poorly in his first start at the meet but should improve with a race under his belt.

set the pace in that same allowance race, but front-running tactics have not proven successful on the Fair Grounds grass. He is likely to face pressure here from Gannam, Lac Laronge, and Zarb's Luck. Lac Laronge and Zarb's Luck are coming out of the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint on Dec. 11, in which they finished second and eighth.

Aloha Bold ran in the opening day feature at Fair Grounds, the Thanksgiving Handicap. Scat Sam Man has never run on turf but will be ridden by leading Fair Grounds jockey Robby Albarado.

The field is completed by Bonapaw, a 9-year-old who was once invincible at Fair Grounds but who has faltered in two attempts since coming out of retirement.