05/14/2003 12:00AM

Bit of Luck bit of bargain


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Bit of Luck was such a bargain at a sale last fall that if he wins the first race at Hollywood Park on Friday the prize money will exceed his purchase price.

Bought for $34,000 in England, Bit of Luck has been a success story for owners David and Holly Wilson and trainer Vladimir Cerin. A 4-year-old gelding, Bit of Luck won two races this year before finishing fifth in the Grade 2 San Francisco Mile at Bay Meadows on April 26.

On Friday, Bit of Luck starts from the outside against four opponents in a $58,000 allowance race over a mile on turf. The winner's share is $34,800.

"He's training really well and he's happy," Cerin said. "I hope I'm happy after the race. Let's see how we do against better allowance horses - at least [they're better] on paper."

Earlier this year, Bit of Luck beat $62,500 claimers at Santa Anita in March and won an optional claimer at Bay Meadows on April 6. He finished 2 1/4 lengths behind Ninebanks in the San Francisco Mile.

Friday's race includes two other recent imports from Europe, Father Thames and Meteor Storm; Denied, a recent allowance race winner; and Stormin' Heaven, who will be a longshot.

A year ago almost to the day, Father Thames won his first stakes in a minor race at Windsor, England.

On Friday, he will try to win for the first time in the United States.

Trained by Darrell Vienna, Father Thames has made one start in the United States, finishing seventh in an optional claimer at Santa Anita on April 16. Father Thames was beaten only 3 1/4 lengths.

Denied and Meteor Storm were first and third in a $61,000 optional claimer at Santa Anita on April 18. The win was Denied's first start for trainer Jeff Mullins, following a transfer from Bob Baffert by owners Bluefield USA.

"I didn't know too much about the horse," Mullins said. "When I got his form, I knew he'd like the grass."

Denied was always prominent in that one-mile race and won by a length over Marine, who finished a neck in front of Meteor Storm.

Trained by Wally Dollase, Meteor Storm won an allowance race in his U.S. debut on March 9. In France last year, Meteor Storm placed in two minor stakes.

Stormin' Heaven is the outsider of the group. He finished fifth in a one-mile allowance race on turf at Santa Anita in his last start in March.