08/19/2006 12:00AM

Baffert sets stakes milestone

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Behaving Badly, ridden by Victor Espinoza, wins the Rancho Bernardo on Friday to give trainer Bob Baffert his record 75th stakes win at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Behaving Badly gave trainer Bob Baffert a record 75th stakes win at Del Mar in Friday's Grade 3, $200,000 .

Baffert surpassed Charlie Whittingham on the track's all-time list. Baffert scored his first Del Mar stakes win with Theresa's Pleasure in 1990, a time when he divided his attention between Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses.

The milestone came as a surprise to Baffert, who said he was not aware that he had been tied with Whittingham. Baffert said his success is a result of racing at Del Mar in the last 15 years.

"I've had more opportunities," he said. "They didn't run that many stakes in the old days."

Whittingham won stakes at Del Mar from 1961-1996. A member of racing's Hall of Fame, Whittingham died in 1999.

Behaving Badly, who won the 2005 Rancho Bernardo, was Baffert's first stakes win of the current meeting. Baffert won a record 13 stakes in 2000.

Behaving Badly's win emphasized her status as one of the nation's leading female sprinters.

A 5-year-old mare, Behaving Badly ($3.20) led throughout the Rancho Bernardo. Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Behaving Badly set fractions of 22.20 and 44.68 seconds, leading by a length on the backstretch. Behaving Badly led by two lengths on the turn and won by 3 1/4 lengths, finishing 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.04.

"I thought it would be a little quicker," Espinoza said of the pace. "I wanted to get away from there.

"I had to ask her in the last sixteenth," he said. "I wanted to make sure she won. I have to give her a lot of credit. She didn't want to get beat."

Owned by Hal and Patti Earnhardt, Behaving Badly has won 9 of 12 starts and $734,224. Six of her wins have come in stakes, including the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap at seven furlongs at Santa Anita in January.

Klein: Positive not my responsibility

Owner Alan Klein filed a lawsuit earlier this year in Los Angeles Superior Court that is still pending against trainer Mike Machowsky, arguing that he should not suffer the consequences of a positive test for a prohibited medication found in one of Machowsky's starters.

Klein's Dyna da Wyna won a maiden race at Santa Anita in January 2003. Earlier this year, the stewards ordered Klein return the $28,000 winner's share of the purse after Dyna da Wyna tested positive for the prohibited antihistamine hydroxyzine/ceritizine. The purse was redistributed to the second- through sixth-place finishers.

"I don't think it's my responsibility," Klein said of the positive test. "I might feed a horse a carrot, but I don't give it medication. I have nothing personal against Mike. It's a personal decision."

Klein said he is seeking his portion of the purse in the lawsuit.

Klein, an attorney in Los Angeles who ran Dyna da Wyna under the name Ellenay Racing, said he was unsuccessful in trying to reach a private settlement with Machowsky.

Machowsky deferred comment to his attorney, Steve Schwartz, who was not available for comment.

Purses are redistributed in cases with positive tests for class 1, 2, or 3 drugs. Hydroxyzine/cetirizine is a class 3 drug.

The steward's ruling in the case featured a rare dissenting opinion. Steward Scott Chaney argued that the stewards should have not issued a ruling in the case since they did not conduct a hearing or take evidence in the matter. In his statement, Chaney stated the decision should have come from the California Horse Racing Board rather than the stewards.

* Skipping Court, the runner-up in a $16,000 claiming race for fillies on Friday, was claimed in a 15-way shake by trainer Ron Ellis on behalf of a partnership.