03/31/2008 11:00PM

Behindatthebar proven on synthetic


ARCADIA, Calif. - If one bad race can be overlooked, then Todd Pletcher-trained Behindatthebar is a standout in the race 7 feature for 3-year-olds Thursday at Santa Anita.

Nine entered the first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles, and notwithstanding his fifth-place finish March 8 in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby, Behindatthebar should be favored over an interesting, albeit modest, field.

Overextended makes his first start since finishing ninth in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity; No Advantage runs for the second time after winning his debut at Penn National by more than 16 lengths; and High Stakes Silver drops out of a sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes. Bay Meadows maiden winner Desert Cowboy figures close.

But if Behindatthebar can be forgiven for his last start, bettors can tee it up. Assistant trainer Michael McCarthy supervises the Pletcher string in California, and he believes Behindatthebar is more likely to reproduce his Santa Anita form Thursday, rather than his Bay Meadows form.

"He ran green, dirt hit him in the face, and he started climbing," McCarthy said. "He did gallop out well, and he has trained well. He looks like he's got a touch of class."

Behindatthebar finished second in his debut Jan. 12, and then scored a facile maiden win Feb. 2 for trainer Craig Dollase. The son of Forest Wildcat subsequently was sold privately and transferred to Pletcher. Behindatthebar is proven on synthetic and will be ridden Thursday by David Flores. His maiden win should be good enough.

No Advantage won his debut March 12 at Penn National and makes his first California start for Doug O'Neill.

"It's hard to figure what he beat in a five-horse field at Penn," O'Neill said.

The horses he beat typically earn Beyer Speed Figures in the 30s; No Advantage earned a 91 winning that six-furlong race by 16 3/4 lengths. O'Neill said No Advantage arrived March 26 from the East, after a private transaction in which Pablo Suarez purchased a majority interest.

O'Neill also starts well-regarded Overextended, runner-up to Colonel John during the fall meet at Hollywood Park before two disappointing efforts. He is racing Thursday for the first time in three months.

"Is he 100 percent ready? I'd say we're hoping to build off this," O'Neill said. "He's breezing really well, but I'm sure he's going to need a race or two."

Desert Cowboy makes his first start for trainer Peter Miller, after a good maiden win March 1 at Bay Meadows. Other starters include Nitro Active, Rivergrade Boy, Trevor's Clever, and Nysnc Lynx.