03/29/2005 1:00AM

BC Sprint runner-up in for a tag


ARCADIA, Calif. - He was a $10,000 claimer who became a world-class sprinter. But Thursday at Santa Anita, the 8-year-old gelding is just another claiming sprinter trying to regain his form. Up the ladder, and down again.

From fall 2003 to winter 2004, rags-to-riches Bluesthestandard was among the country's top sprinters. Owned by Jeffrey Sengara and trained by Ted H. West, Bluesthestandard finished second in Breeders' Cup Sprint, and earned successive 114 Beyer Figures in the BC Sprint and the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap.

In eight starts since, Bluesthestandard has gone steadily downhill. He will try to end an extended losing streak Thursday in race 2, a six-furlong event where he will face dropper Full Moon Madness and late-runner Ride and Shine. Bluesthestandard has won 15 races and $957,818 from 36 starts, but his current form is shaky at best.

In his most recent start, in a minor stakes race at one mile, Bluesthestandard gave way on the far turn and trailed the field. He has slowed down, and his placement in a $40,000 claimer sets the tone for an unusual card.

A different type of dropper in race 4 is likely to start as the odds-on favorite. Except that in the case of Barancella, no claiming price is attached. Seven fillies and mares race 1 1/8 miles on turf in the first-condition allowance, and Barancella leaps off the page. Trained by Bobby Frankel, she has raced three times in the United States, with two seconds in Grade 1 races and a fifth-place finish March 20 in a Grade 2.

Barancella was beaten slightly more than two lengths by Megahertz in the Santa Ana Handicap, an effort that towers over the accomplishments of her Thursday foes. Gary Tanaka owns Barancella, whose modest rivals include Jewel of the Year, Daze, and One Two Punch. The favorite appears unbeatable, but if Barancella were a genuine stakes filly, she would be shopping around for another stakes race. Barancella has won 1 of 7 starts, yet seems overqualified with her Grade 1 placings.

Finally, race 7 marks the return of a colt who last spring enjoyed one brief moment of fame. Preachinatthebar won the Grade 2 San Felipe in March, was considered a Kentucky Derby prospect, then went downhill and finished off the board his next four starts.

Preachinatthebar runs six furlongs Thursday in a two-other-than allowance with a $62,500 claiming option, in which his main rivals are Only the Best and Ata Olympio. Preachinatthebar is trained by Bob Baffert and owned by Mike Pegram.