07/25/2007 11:00PM

Bing Crosby offers hurdles for E Z Warrior


DEL MAR, Calif. - The lightly raced E Z Warrior risks an unbeaten streak in a difficult spot on Sunday. He starts in the $300,000 Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar, which will be a race of firsts for the 3-year-old: His first start in a Grade 1, first start in six months, and first start against older horses.

The race has not been friendly to 3-year-olds in its recent history.

E Z Warrior will be trying to become the second 3-year-old to win the Bing Crosby in the last 30 years. Since Messenger of Song won in 1975, the only 3-year-old winner was King's Blade in 1994.

Trainer Bob Baffert is not deterred, at least not publicly. "I could have run in an allowance race," Baffert said. "He would have run just as hard."

Owned by Zayat Stable, E Z Warrior has won three starts - a maiden race and the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship at Hollywood Park in 2006 and the San Miguel Stakes at Santa Anita in January. He missed the major races last summer and fall when his campaign was curtailed because of sore shins.

Baffert said earlier this year that E Z Warrior missed the San Felipe Stakes in March because of a quarter crack.

With the Bing Crosby as his goal, E Z Warrior has worked quickly in the last few months, including five furlongs in 59.40 seconds from the gate on Sunday, the fastest of 90 recorded works at the distance.

Whether that will be effective against Bing Crosby entrants such as Declan's Moon, the 2004 champion 2-year-old male, or the Grade 1 winners Bordonaro and Greg's Gold is the biggest test for E Z Warrior.

"We're throwing him in on the deep end," Baffert said. "Can he run against older horses? We'll find out. He's trained well and he runs well fresh."

Potts injured in training spill

Jockey Clinton Potts took off his only mount of Thursday's program after being injured in a one-horse spill during morning training.

Potts was working Tizthen for trainer Bill Currin when the filly ducked to the inside in the stretch and struck the rail, unseating the rider. Potts stood on the outside rail for several minutes and later walked through the barn area before seeking treatment.

Potts went to a local hospital for neck X-rays, which were negative, according to his agent, Nick Cosato. Cosato said that further tests were scheduled.

Potts had an excellent start to the month, winning his first Grade 1 stakes in the Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder on July 7 aboard River's Prayer, and winning the Robert Kerlan Handicap aboard Scottsbluff on July 15.

Tizthen, a winner of 1 of 6 starts and $54,718, needed three hours of stitches to close wounds on her left side and right hip, according to Currin. He said the filly did not appear to suffer any long-term damage.

"It's not going to affect her mobility," Currin said. "She won't look as pretty in the paddock. It was an ugly morning."

Tizthen was second in the Anoakia Stakes at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting last fall.

The accident resulted in the early closure of training hours because of damage to the inside rail near the eighth pole. The track closed shortly after 9 a.m. instead of 9:45.

Lava Man works on Del Mar Poly

The handicap star Lava Man worked a half-mile in 49 seconds on Thursday, between the time the Tizthen accident occurred and the track closed. Lava Man is preparing for a defense of his title in the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 19.

Lava Man worked alone, getting the first quarter-mile in 25 seconds and three furlongs in 37 seconds, according to trainer Doug O'Neill's stopwatch. O'Neill described the workout as a "leg-stretcher."

The workout was Lava Man's first on Del Mar's Polytrack synthetic surface. He won the Hollywood Gold Cup for a record third time on June 30.

Inquiry goes Georgie Boy's way

Georgie Boy survived a lengthy inquiry to win the $140,050 Graduation Stakes for 2-year-old statebreds on Wednesday, the first time the gelding had won a race in three starts.

Georgie Boy ($9.20) soundly bumped Bear Creek in the stretch, but the stewards ruled that the incident was not Georgie Boy's fault.

"You're always a little edgy about that, but I thought the other horses came out into him," trainer Kathy Walsh said.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Georgie Boy rallied from seventh in the field of 11 to take the lead in early stretch. He pulled clear to win by three lengths over 18-1 My Redeemer.

Owned by George Schwary, Georgie Boy ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:06.67. He had finished third and second in maiden races at Hollywood Park.

Georgie Boy is nominated to the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 5, but Walsh said the $100,000 I'm Smokin Stakes for statebreds on Sept. 3 is a more viable option.

Drill Down has benefit of a race

Experience may help Drill Down win for the first time in a six-furlong maiden race for 2-year-olds on Saturday.

Drill Down finished third against maidens at Hollywood Park on June 30, but trainer Mike Machowsky hopes he can improve against a field of promising juveniles in Saturday's sixth race.

"He could be anything," Machowsky said. "In his last race, he didn't break and he weaved his way through the field. He acts like an old horse."

Drill Down is part of a 12-horse field that will be reduced by at least one. Goldroad, a $350,000 yearling purchase, will not make his career debut on Saturday because of illness, trainer Richard Mandella said Thursday.

The race marks the career debuts of E Z's Gentlemen, purchased for $240,000 at the Barretts March sale of 2-year-olds in training, and the Christopher Paasch-trained Crimson Star, bought for $240,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida 2-year-olds in training sale in February.

Trainer Ron McAnally was discouraged that E Z's Gentlemen drew the rail. "He acts like he can run a bit," McAnally said. "He'll need the experience."

O'Neill starts Overextended, a $400,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale. Overextended was seventh in his debut after a slow start on June 3. He will race with blinkers and with the addition of a tongue tie, O'Neill said.

"We're adding equipment to bring out more of his true talent," O'Neill said.