09/05/2005 12:00AM

Bashert could be destined for victory

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DEL MAR, Calif. - The chances Bashert has of winning the on Wednesday increased when his nemesis, What a Song, suffered fatal injuries last month. Bashert's trainer, Bill Currin, said he felt nothing but sadness when What a Song was put down. It wasn't merely sportsmanship. It was deep-felt empathy.

Currin knows all too well the cruel twists of fate that can befall the trainer of a promising 2-year-old. Last year, Currin trained Wetherly, who challenged pro-tem leader Roman Ruler in the Best Pal Stakes. As the field went around the far turn, Wetherly broke down fatally and plummeted to the track. Roman Ruler deftly avoided him and went on to victory. But for Bob Baffert, who trained Roman Ruler, it was a hollow win. This year, it was Baffert, who also trained What a Song, to whom fate dealt the most vicious of blows.

"I'm still a little tender about it," Currin said Monday morning at Del Mar, as he watched from a backside viewing stand as Bashert jogged once around the main track with exercise rider Carlos Aguilar. "What a shame. It ruined my day. Bob and I were standing right here when we saw the wagon come out. I'd have rather been anywhere else on the planet at that moment.

"When Wetherly went down, my whole family was here from North Carolina," he said. "Bob was very gracious in victory. I guess it's like bull riders and car drivers - sometimes they come home, and sometimes they don't."

Bashert finished second to What a Song in both the Hollywood Juvenile Championship and the Best Pal Stakes. In those two races and a maiden victory, Bashert earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 91 or higher. His speed and experience combined to make him the 5-2 favorite for the Del Mar Futurity on the morning line set by Del Mar's Jeff Tufts.

Bashert (pronounced bah-shairt) is a Yiddish word that means "to be destined, or to find one's partner of destiny." The colt was named by his breeder, Bettina Gates, and sold with that name as a yearling, according to Currin. "His breeder told me she named him that way in part because he was born on Valentine's Day," Currin said.

Currin, who admits to being "in my 60's," made a fortune developing luxury homes in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and the Bay Area of California. Currin Construction Company is now largely run by his son, Patrick.

"I'm kind of like the Pope," Currin said. "I take a look at the subdivision, cross myself, and leave."

Currin has trained horses for more than 30 years, but has devoted more time to that pursuit in recent years. "I've got 20 horses. Not 21, not 19," he said. "If one goes bad, I bring another one in from the farm. I never want more than 20 at the track. I want to enjoy what I'm doing."

Along with his wife, Betty, Currin has traveled extensively with his horses, most notably the older horse Outta Here, who ran in the United Arab Emirates Derby, and Memorette, who had an aggressive campaign in major 3-year-old filly stakes this year. Currin's partner with his racehorses is Al Eisman, who owns Blue Haven Pool Company.

"He still works like he needs the money," Currin said.

In fact, neither man is hurting financially. Currin has homes near Del Mar and in Beverly Hills and is about to move into a West Hollywood home that was once owned by Clark Gable. So while lucrative offers have been made for Bashert, Currin said he has no interest in selling.

"Why should I sell a fast horse? To get more money to buy another one who's slow?" he said. "I've already got the fast one."

Bashert is a son of the Storm Cat stallion Tiger Ridge, who stands for $7,500. Currin bought Bashert as a yearling one year ago at Keeneland for $110,000, which is a high price for Currin.

"I've been inching up," he said. "I enjoyed my reputation for buying for $50,000 and under. Now, it's $250,000 and under. But I paid $190,000 for one that's not worth two dead flies. You've got to be lucky."

It is easy to see why Bashert attracted Currin's attention. A dark bay colt, Bashert has a racy look and a long, white blaze that reminded Currin of his favorite racehorse from years gone by.

"He reminds me of Native Diver," Currin said. "He's long in the rear, which gives him his push. I liked his looks and his conformation. He's a pretty horse. There were 4,000 horses in that sale. He was the prettiest."