11/29/2006 12:00AM

'Zeke' in tougher spot after two wins


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Has Zeke the Sneak turned things around as a 5-year-old?

Zeke the Sneak didn't debut until he was 4, but he comes into Friday's $12,500 claimer at five furlongs on the turf with two straight victories, earning a career-best Beyer of 71 in both races.

Whether that will be enough to win Friday is another story. Requesto and Rangoon Raquetclub ran one-two in a similar race Nov. 2. Rangoon Raquetclub has finished second in his past three starts, the last two coming at this distance for this tag.

Requesto has a bit more speed than Rangoon Raquetclub and should have position to get first run on him turning for home.

Both are stalker types, as is Zeke the Sneak.

Zeke the Sneak's victories have come at the bottom levels, so Friday's race will be a big reach for him. But the aptly named homebred has done some unusual things in the past.

When he was a 2-year-old, the farm where he was staying was flooded. Owner-trainer Bruce Dillenbeck went to Turlock, Calif., to pick up the colt, but he was nowhere to be found. Eventually, Dillenbeck found him, two pastures and one river away with all the farm's mares, who were kept in an isolated pasture.

"We don't know how he got there," Dillenbeck said. "He had to get across a river and jump over two fences. He was already named Zeke the Sneak, so he sure lived up to his name."

It took time for Dillenbeck to get Zeke the Sneak to the races. He was bred by Dillenbeck's mother, Ida, and has an obscure pedigree - by Key to the Carr out of Blackberry Brandy.

"He's very nice around the barn," Dillenbeck said. "He's never been hard to handle."

Friday's race attracted nine runners, including the stakes winner Vallarta, who has won sprinting at this distance.

The morning-line favorite in the race is Mud Light, who comes north off two straight wire-to-wire wins for trainer Jeff Mullins and will have Russell Baze in the saddle. He has speed and is drawn outside.

* The day's nominal feature pits five 2-year-olds going one mile for a $16,000 claiming price. Molly's Durango, fourth behind Cee's for Clever in his last start, drops from a $40,000 starter allowance and looms the one to beat. He will stalk the speedy Valid Star.

* Saturday's Winners Foundation sprint for 2-year-olds attracted only four entries and will not be run.