08/18/2002 11:00PM

Baffert holds loaded hand in Best Pal


DEL MAR, Calif. - It's a case of riches, to be sure, but there is no embarrassment. Bob Baffert has so many good 2-year-old colts this summer at Del Mar that he entered four of them in Wednesday's $150,000 Best Pal Stakes, which drew a field of nine.

Baffert will not run all four of them, but as many as three - Icecoldbeeratreds, Chief Planner, and Kafwain - could go in the 6 1/2-furlong, Grade 3 race.

Vindication, Baffert's highly regarded Seattle Slew colt, was entered back in a six-furlong allowance race on Thursday, and will be scratched from the Best Pal. Luzern, trained by Mike Harrington, also entered Thursday's allowance and will come out of the Best Pal, too.

Baffert even could have entered a fifth runner, Bull Market, in the Best Pal, but he decided to bypass the Best Pal with Bull Market in favor Thursday's allowance race, though Bull Market could very well scratch out of that race to await the closing-day Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 11.

Why enter so many? "I'm worried about the sickness," Baffert said, referring to a rash of illness that has struck numerous 2-year-olds here this summer. "I've got a sick one every day."

He also has some live runners. Icecoldbeeratreds is 2 for 2, both against California-breds, and comes off a victory in the Graduation Stakes here on July 31. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 97 that day.

"He's very fast," Baffert said.

Baffert's best chance, however, may be with Kafwain, who disappointed as the even-money favorite in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship on July 20, when he broke poorly and raced wide. In his previous race, Kafwain beat maidens and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 94, and he has run a series of blazing works since arriving at Del Mar.

"He's working really well here," Baffert said. "His first race, he disappointed, then he ran great, then he disappointed. I think he's sitting on a good one."

Chief Planner was third in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship after beating California-bred maidens.

Red Apache was second to Kafwain in his debut, then romped to a three-length win against maidens at Hollywood on July 14.

Outta Here is still a maiden, but has run well in both of his starts, including a second-place finish in the Hollywood Juvenile.

Hell Cat beat maidens first time out Aug. 10 with a stylish, last-to-first run.

Gralley, a stakes winner in his lone start at Albuquerque, gets Lasix for his first start for new trainer Bruce Headley.