02/23/2006 12:00AM

Wellingtons Arch tough right back

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ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Jeff Bonde needed patience in the development of Wellingtons Arch, and his patience may pay off in Saturday's Golden Gate Fields feature, a $50,000 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares.

has shown improvement in her last two starts, both 1 1/16-mile dirt races, running second and then winning at the first-level allowance condition. If she shows more improvement on Saturday, her five rivals will be running for second money. She will be tough to beat, in fact, if she simply repeats her last start.

Wellingtons Arch has not failed to pick up a check since her debut, when she ran against the stakes winner Lunachick and Just a Tizzy. After three sprints last spring, she was given time off, then was stretched out and won her maiden on the turf. The added distance seemed to help.

"She was always a project in the making," Bonde said. "It took a long time for her to learn how to relax."

Though she still prefers to race forwardly placed, Wellingtons Arch won her maiden by stalking the pace. She led wire to wire in her victory last out.

Bonde is careful about spacing her races and will be giving her 34 days since her last start. She has had three works in that period, each successively better, culminating with a best-of-26 five-furlong work in 1:00.20 a week ago.

"She's training as well as you can," Bonde said.

Her primary competition Saturday is , a pair of 5-year-old mares who take turns beating each other. Eleanor Rose has speed and could well take the early lead, while Eclipse Winner relies on a late run.

One race earlier on Saturday is the first turf race of the meeting , a 1 1/16-mile allowance test for fillies and mares which attracted eight entries. Among them are Dally May, Blue Cay, and Betty's Grace, each of whom won her last start over the Golden Gate Fields turf.

* Buzzards Bay earned a career-best 108 Beyer Speed Figure for his four-length victory over Melanyhasthepapers in Monday's Grade 3 All American.

* Carthage got his second straight triple-digit Beyer, a 105, for his four-length victory over Court's in Session in the Fairfax overnight stakes Feb. 15.

* Frisco Star earned a 96 and Press Camp an 85 for their wins in Sunday's Novato and the Feb. 16 Tiburon, respectively.