09/15/2005 11:00PM

Bengal Lore looks like a lock in Barretts


POMONA, Calif. - Bengal Lore, the favorite Sunday in the $120,000 Barretts Juvenile, was in tough the very first time he started.

"He ran against two of the best colts in the California," said Ted West, who trains the 2-year-old with his son, Ted H. West.

Bengal Lore finished third behind What a Song and Stevie Wonderboy in his debut, and three races later won a fast Del Mar maiden race that stamps him as the favorite Sunday at Fairplex Park.

What a Song was the top 2-year-old in Southern California until his death last month, and Stevie Wonderboy won the Del Mar Futurity.

The 6 1/2-furlong Barretts Juvenile has been the target for Bengal Lore for nearly two months. "We gave [Martin] Pedroza the call halfway through the Del Mar meet," said West.

Bengal Lore was still a maiden then, but it was only a matter of time.

Bengal Lore finally put it all together in his fourth start Aug. 27 at Del Mar when he won by 1 1/2 lengths while earning an outstanding 90 Beyer Speed Figure. Owned by Scott Guenther's Desperado Stable, Bengal Lore is the standout among 11 that entered the Barretts Juvenile.

Six are maidens; the four other winners and their highest Beyers include Mob Rule (53), Crowing Caper (18), Dufourspitze (57), and Seven Nation Army (60). Beyond his 30-point advantage in speed figures, Bengal Lore has other credentials that suggest he will be very tough to beat.

The high-figure maiden win by Bengal Lore was validated when third-place finisher The Thought Occurs returned Wednesday to win the $60,000 Beau Brummel Stakes via disqualification. Bengal Lore shipped to Fairplex's five-furlong oval soon after his Del Mar maiden win to re-familiarize himself with the track. The Barretts is restricted to horses offered for sale at a Barretts auction.

"This is a little different racetrack than any of the other three," West said. "Not only because it's a bullring, but it's quite a bit different surface than Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, or Del Mar."

Horsemen have long raved about the kind Fairplex surface, and Bengal Lore has trained super over the track. Drawn in post 2 with tactical speed and a finishing kick, the only question regarding Bengal Lore is how low his odds will be.

A son of Tale of the Cat, Bengal Lore was purchased at the Barretts 2-year-old in training sale for $85,000. A win Sunday would push his earnings beyond $100,000.

Second choice in the Barretts is likely to be the Doug O'Neill-trained Seven Nation Army, a 1-for-1 gelding by General Meeting who will be ridden by Matt Garcia.