12/13/2002 12:00AM

Baffert to take two shots at Futurity


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - In the last five years, the Hollywood Futurity has been a springboard to brilliance for three of Bob Baffert's top 2-year-olds.

Real Quiet, the 1997 Futurity winner, used the race as a springboard to a Kentucky Derby win in 1998.

In 1999, Captain Steve won the Hollywood Futurity. He later won the Dubai World Cup.

In 2000, Point Given went from the winner's circle of the Hollywood Futurity to a campaign that ended with the 2001 Horse of the Year title.

Next Saturday, the pressure is on Kafwain and Domestic Dispute to give Baffert his fourth win in the Futurity, which would tie D. Wayne Lukas on the all-time list.

Kafwain and Domestic Dispute have had divergent careers.

Kafwain was always expected to be a star. Bought by The Thoroughbred Corporation for $720,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida 2-year-olds in training sale, he has won 3 of 7 starts and $511,458. The highlights are wins in the Best Pal and Norfolk stakes and a runner-up finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile to stablemate Vindication.

Domestic Dispute, who races for breeder Gary Garber, did not debut until August. He won his maiden in his second start and has yet to win a stakes.

But Domestic Dispute is a colt that Baffert says should not be ignored, even though he finished ninth in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 30.

"He's a very good horse," Baffert said. "He was right there up there with my other ones. I couldn't get a race in him at Hollywood Park. I had to ship him across country just to get a start in him. He got tired."

Kafwain will be a strong favorite in the Futurity, which is expected to include Roll Hennessy Roll, Outta Here, Toccet, and maybe Ghostzapper, a recent maiden winner trained by Bobby Frankel.

Toccet will be well- supported. This year, he has won the Champagne Stakes, Laurel Futurity, and Remsen Stakes. The Hollywood Futurity will be his first start in California.

But Kafwain's success in California, combined with Baffert's reputation, will make him the favorite.

"He looks good," Baffert said of Kafwain. "He hasn't shown any signs he's regressed. He's improving."

He was an expensive purchase who scared the trainer with a few modest races earlier in the year, including a fourth in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship, but Kafwain has developed into a classics contender.

Of course, Baffert admits that his top exercise rider, Dana Barnes, always felt Kafwain would improve with age and longer races.

"We ran him short a few times and I was worried about him," he said. "Dana kept saying he wants to go long. She was right."

Frankel has pair pointing for Dahlia

The Futurity is the top race on the final weekend of the Hollywood Park fall meeting, which ends on Dec. 22. Santa Anita opens on Dec. 26.

The Futurity program also includes the $150,000 Dahlia Handicap for fillies and mares over 1 1/16 miles on turf. The probables include Double Cat, Reine de Romance, Surya, Tates Creek, Terna, and Tout Charmant.

Surya and Tates Creek are trained by Frankel, who is in pursuit of Lukas's single-season earnings record for a trainer of $17,842,358. Through Thursday, Frankel's runners had earned $17,478,488.

Frankel could make up ground on the milestone when Marine starts in a $49,000 optional claimer in Sunday's fifth race at Hollywood Park.

Two horses break down on same card

Two horses were euthanized as the result of injuries suffered during Thursday's racing.

In the fifth race, Immense Variety, a 13-1 chance, unseated jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. on the backstretch of an optional claimer over 6 1/2 furlongs.

Valdivia remained on the ground for a few minutes after being unseated, but returned to ride races later on the program.

A 5-year-old gelding, Immense Variety won 2 races in 21 starts.

In the last race, Kadesh N Shur was pulled up with a cannon bone injury on the first turn of a maiden claimer for 2-year-olds. Sent off as the 2-1 second choice, Kadesh N Shur was making his fourth start.

Shirreffs stars gear up for Santa Anita

Trainer John Shirreffs has two excellent chances to win stakes with Sea Jewel and David Copperfield in the first month of the Santa Anita meeting.

David Copperfield, the winner of the Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sept. 21, is being pointed for the $150,000 San Gabriel Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on turf on Dec. 29.

Sea Jewel is being pointed for the $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 5.

Sea Jewel passed the Hollywood Starlet Stakes on Saturday after missing training because of a bruised foot. The 2-year-old Sea Jewel has yet to win a stakes, but has been running with the division's best this year. She finished third in the Oak Leaf Stakes and fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and Del Mar Debutante.