01/24/2007 1:00AM

Well-bred maiden in good spot


ALBANY, Calif. - Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale sends the well-bred Startale north for a one-mile maiden race Friday at Golden Gate Fields. Startale is a 4-year-old gelding by Coronado's Quest, who won both the Grade 1 Haskell and Grade 1 Travers, and out of the stakes-placed Starlore, who earned $225,516. He's a half-brother to Quest, who won the Grade 2 Clark and was second in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Startale will be making his third main-track start in a row after three tries on turf to start his career, which began last March. In his last start he set the pace before fading to fifth at Santa Anita on Dec. 28. Prior to that, he ran second in a Hollywood Park maiden race.

Startale has never run shorter than a mile, so the distance will be no problem. But the competition might.

Waiting in the wings is Forestry's Fire, who is by Forestry and is a half-brother to Croisiare, a stakes winner in both Europe and the United States. Both of his other siblings are also winners.

Forestry's Fire has run twice, finishing a distant third in his debut last September and fourth on Jan. 6. The horse who won Forestry's Fire's debut, Show Me Your Money, is unbeaten in two starts. Pocosins Game Boy won Forestry's Fire's second start and returned to win again.

"He's run against some good ones," said Colleen Hartford, assistant to trainer John Martin.

Forestry's Fire turned in a solid five-furlong work since his last race.

Friday's race will be his first around two turns, but Hartford said she and Martin have been waiting for him to go long.

"We want to stretch him out," she said.

Short California Derby field

The Craig Dollase-trained Boutrous and the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained trio of Bwana Bull, Candy's Bro and Double Action remained the only confirmed entries for Sunday's $150,000 California Derby.

Carla Gaines had two who were possible for the race, but she said Wednesday that the stakes winner Kolo would be pointed to the Sham at Santa Anita and that Propaganda would also run elsewhere.