07/25/2002 11:00PM

Bear Fan in the spot Ward wants

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Since early spring, Bear Fan has been targeting Sunday's $100,000 Fleet Treat Stakes at Del Mar.

Following a maiden win in her debut by a convincing four lengths on the California Gold Rush program at Hollywood Park on April 28, trainer and co-owner Wesley Ward has had his sights set on the Fleet Treat, a restricted race run over seven furlongs for California-bred 3-year-old fillies.

"We are ready," Ward said Friday. "I'm looking for a big effort."

Unbeaten in two starts, Bear Fan will be a strong favorite against seven others. Most recently, she won an allowance race over 6 1/2 furlongs for California-bred fillies on June 15 at Hollywood Park.

Bear Fan deserves to be favored on the basis of her speed, potential race tactics, and the lack of strong competition.

Even though Bear Fan has never run in a stakes, she faces a field that includes only one stakes winner and one stakes-placed filly. Ladylore pulled an upset at 31-1 in the $200,000 Melair Stakes over 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood Park on April 28, but was fourth in the Grade 2 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks on June 15. Both of her wins came over 1 1/16 miles.

She remains eligible for the Fleet Treat because the race is restricted to nonwinners of two first-place prizes of $50,000. Ladylore accomplished that once, in the Melair Stakes.

Daddy's Gold placed in two stakes last year, including the California Breeders Champion Stakes for fillies at Santa Anita. She has two victories in four starts this year, both in overnight races, but was unplaced in the Santa Anita Oaks and San Jose Stakes in the spring.

Bear Fan tipped her readiness with a five-furlong workout in 57.40 seconds on Tuesday, the fastest of 47 works at the distance.

"She did it in a gallop," Ward said. "She had her ears pinned and came back and was bucking and playing. I'm looking for a big effort."

Ward said that Bear Fan can lead early, as she did in the recent allowance race, but can also come from behind.

"In both starts, she broke a little tardy," Ward said. "In her second start, within 10 strides, she was head and head.

"I'd like to let her sit back, let the speed go and then go at the quarter pole."

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