12/07/2001 1:00AM

Baffert taking three shots at fourth Futurity


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - In the last four years, Bob Baffert has dominated the Hollywood Futurity like no trainer before in the race's 20-year history.

Baffert won the Futurity three times in the last four years - with Real Quiet (1997), Captain Steve (1999), and Point Given (2000). In Saturday's running, he will have as many as three starters.

Baffert hopes that Hawk's Top Gun or Mountain Rage or Popular will give him a fourth Futurity winner, and tie him with D. Wayne Lukas for most Futurity victories by a trainer.

Mountain Rage is coming off a career-best performance, a victory in the Generous Stakes on a soggy turf course Nov. 24. Popular was second to Futurity probable Fonz's in the Prevue Stakes Nov. 17. Hawk's Top Gun was third in an allowance race over 7 1/2 furlongs on Dec. 1.

Baffert said Friday that his lineup of starters is fluid, pending final workouts in coming days.

"I know Mountain Rage and Hawk's Top Gun are for sure," he said. "Popular has worked a nice easy mile. They're all eligible so it can be a last-minute deal."

Run at 1 1/16 miles, the Futurity is expected to have a strong field. Aside from the Baffert trio and Fonz's, the probables are: Siphonic, Yougottawanna, Labamta Babe, Publication, and Brigadier Jones.

Siphonic and Publication were third and fourth, respectively, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Belmont Park on Oct. 27. Yougottawanna beat Officer in the California Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. Baffert, who trains Officer, said that that colt has not been ruled out of the Futurity, but is more likely to surface next in the California Breeders' Champion Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 28.

If a Baffert runner wins, he would have a tough act to follow.

Real Quiet went on to win the Kentucky Derby and was named champion 3-year-old in 1998. Point Given is a certainty to win the 3-year-old title for 2001, after a campaign that included six major stakes wins.

There was no championship for Captain Steve. But he did win the $6 million Dubai World Cup last March, finishing his career with nine wins in 25 starts and earnings of $6,828,356.

You works for Starlet

There are three graded stakes at Hollywood Park next weekend.

The Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes on Sunday will have a short field, led by You, the beaten favorite in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies race. You, who finished fourth that day, worked six furlongs in 1:12.60 on Friday at Hollywood Park. Trained by Bobby Frankel, You is expected to face stakes winners Tali'sluckybusride, Habibti, and the maiden winner Renaissance Woman.

On Saturday, there are two $150,000 races for fillies and mares over 1 1/16 miles - the Bayakoa Handicap on dirt and the Dahlia Handicap on turf.

The Bayakoa is expected to be the stronger race. The probables include Favorite Funtime, Feverish, Queenie Belle, Starrer, Tout Charmant, and Tranquility Lake. Feverish and Tranquility Lake will be coupled since they are both owned by Marty and Pam Wygod.

Baffert picks up Fancy As

Fancy As, a seven-time stakes winner in Canada this year, is scheduled to join Baffert's stable this weekend for the Santa Anita meeting.

A 3-year-old gelding, Fancy As won eight of nine starts this year at Stampede Park, Northlands Park, and Hastings Park. His only loss was a second, by a half-length, in the Manitoba Derby at Assiniboia Downs on Aug. 6.

Fancy As is a finalist for the Sovereign Award as Canada's top 3-year-old colt or gelding.

Baffert is pointing Fancy As for the $200,000 San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 12.

Turf course little used

The turf course at Hollywood Park is being used sparingly. After rain this week, only one turf race of the five carded on Wednesday and Thursday was kept on the grass.

Friday's fourth race was moved from turf to dirt, but the seventh race remained on the grass. The course was scheduled to be used twice on Saturday on Sunday.

* Crescendo, a 3-year-old colt trained by Baffert, set a Hollywood Park track record for 5 1/2 furlongs Friday, winning an allowance race in 1:02.11. He broke the record of 1:02.12 set by Track Gal in July, 1997.