12/15/2005 1:00AM

Wasserman a potential value play


ALBANY, Calif. - Saturday's feature race at Golden Gate Fields could come down to a question of

condition as seven runners compete in a $50,000 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles.

Three have not raced since October, and two others have had only one race off layoffs.

Wasserman, who just ran second in a sprint against similar, might offer the best value.

Stakes-placed in an Emerald Downs sprint before coming here, Wasserman has yet to win at two turns but has shown an ability to get a distance.

He was fifth, beaten three lengths, at Saturday's distance in the Seattle Slew Breeders' Cup Handicap at Emerald. He was second in a $40,000 optional claimer at one mile, then sixth in the Emerald Downs Breeders' Cup Derby at 1 1/8 miles, losing by 3 3/4 lengths to Alexandersrun, who also won the Seattle Slew.

What makes Wasserman attractive besides his probable odds is the fact he has speed to run at in this race. He's a natural stalker, and that might work in his favor in this spot.

He comes off a rallying second last out.

Both Lion Andthe Lamb and Thames, a Jerry Hollendorfer-trained entry, have speed - as does Cinematic, who led wire to wire on Nov. 19 in his comeback after a 6 1/2-month break.

Lion Andthe Lamb set the pace before fading in the sprint in which Wasserman ran second. He will make his first attempt at a route.

Thames, who has won 6 of 19 starts, won his last start by six lengths, a mile allowance race on a wet-fast track on Oct. 29. He flashed speed for the first time in his career that day, but despite his wire-to-wire victory, he seems

likely to lay off the pace set by his entrymate.

Cinematic was favored in a first-level allowance field and won wire to wire. He previously ran second at Saturday's distance versus better at Del Mar.

Indian Weaver makes his first start since winning the Trooper Seven at Emerald Downs on Oct. 2, and Apollo King makes his first start since finishing second in the Bull Dog at Fresno on Oct. 16.

Hajji's Honor, a stakes winner as a 2-year-old, is 4 now and makes his second start after a 23-month layoff. He showed vast improvement in winning his second start at 2.