07/28/2007 12:00AM

Barn excited over Monterey Jazz


DEL MAR, Calif. - When he beat maidens in his fourth career start at Golden Gate Fields in early June, Monterey Jazz displayed the talent that trainer Craig Dollase expected.

The win left Dollase eager to see what else Monterey Jazz can do.

"He's been sitting on go," Dollase said. "We've been really desperate to get him in."

The opportunity arrives in Monday's seventh race at Del Mar, an optional claimer over five furlongs on turf. Monterey Jazz breaks from the outside in a field of seven.

The field is limited to seven starters because Del Mar's narrow turf course cannot accommodate a large field when the temporary rails are placed seven feet out from the permanent position, which is the case on Monday. As a result, there are four horses on the also-eligible list.

Monterey Jazz is expected to contend for the lead. When he won a five-furlong maiden race at Golden Gate Fields, he broke from the outside in a field of eight, fought for the early lead, and pulled clear to win by three lengths as the odds-on favorite.

"He's an extremely fast horse," Dollase said.

So is Only in Reno, a 5-year-old horse by In Excess trained by Bob Baffert.

Only in Reno beat maidens at Santa Anita in January 2005 but was off for 28 months before finishing second in an allowance race at Hollywood Park on June 9. On June 30, he ran fourth in an allowance race over 6 1/2 furlongs on the synthetic track.

Baffert said that 6 1/2 furlongs was "too far" for Only in Reno.

Monday's race is Only in Reno's first start on turf. Baffert is not keen on running front-runners on Del Mar's Polytrack surface, even though the surface has been better for sprinters than routers that race on the lead.

"I think he's an extra fast horse, and In Excesses do well on turf," Baffert said. "I thought it would be a good spot since the Poly is not really kind to speed."

The race has a closer in Ballistic Heat, who could benefit if the pace is too quick.

Trained by Barry Abrams, Ballistic Heat, 4, is already a winner at the meeting, in an optional claimer for statebreds on July 19. It was his second win in 13 starts.