07/01/2004 11:00PM

Blazen Right Cross steps up into stakes


PLEASANTON, Calif. - Two months ago, trainer Jamey Thomas didn't expect to have a 2-year-old running in Sunday's $50,000-added Everett Nevin Alameda County Futurity at the Alameda County Fair.

But Blazen Right Cross surprised him.

"I didn't expect him to be so good," Thomas said. "He was just a laid-back horse around the barn, but he's all business when he's on the track."

Although he won't be favored against nine Cal-bred rivals in the five-furlong stakes, Blazen Right Cross could land a knockout punch.

He failed to break in his debut on May 13, spotting the rest of the field a good eight lengths. He made a strong move around the turn to reach contention before flattening out late.

"He wasn't breaking sharp in the morning, and I told Francisco [Duran] to make sure to slap him out of the gate," Thomas said.

Thomas was disappointed because he "didn't think it was that tough of a race."

Blazen Right Cross made no mistakes in the gate in his second start two weeks later, going wire to wire.

He still wasn't perfect.

"He didn't switch leads turning for home," Thomas said.

Blazen Right Cross showed enough that Thomas breathed a sigh of relief that no one had claimed him for $32,000 in either of his first two starts.

Thomas considered running Blazen Right Cross in the June 13 Malcolm Anderson at Bay Meadows, but decided to wait for Saturday's race because he wanted to give his colt more time after his May 27 victory.

"He's come back and done everything right," Thomas said. "I took him to Pleasanton, and he worked beautiful." Blazen Right Cross was timed in 48.40 seconds for that half-mile work on June 28, which following a five-furlong bullet drill at Golden Gate Fields on June 22.

David Lopez, who will ride Saturday, galloped Blazen Right Cross on Friday "to get to know him," according to Thomas.

Thomas has tried not to work the youngster too fast.

"I don't ask them in the morning," he said. "I'd rather have a sound horse than one that works super fast."

Questionable World, second in the Malcolm Anderson, is the likely favorite from the outside post in the 10-horse field. Wind Water, third in the Malcolm Anderson in his debut, should show improvement.

Johnny High Brite, who won his debut at Hollywood Park, may vie for favoritism and will be a pace factor from the rail under Russell Baze, who rode Blazen Right Cross last time.