11/10/2005 1:00AM

Bluesthestandard now a millionaire

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - One of the most popular and durable performers on this circuit, Bluesthestandard, went over the $1 million mark in earnings on Wednesday with a three-length victory in the fifth race, a $40,000 claimer.

Bluesthestandard, 8, was making the 44th start of his career. He dipped into cheap claiming races midway through his career, improved enough under the care of trainer Ted H. West to finish second in the 2003 Breeders' Cup Sprint, and has competed in high-priced claiming races this year.

West lost Bluesthestandard via the claim box to trainer Jeff Mullins in March, and then in August at Del Mar trainer Bill Spawr claimed Bluesthestandard for $50,000 for owner Ed Brown Jr. and his wife, Debi. Bluesthe-

standard, a gelding, was pulled up that day by jockey Victor Espinoza, but the next morning, Spawr said Bluesthestandard was fine, and he has made three starts since.

"I had seen him train for Jeff, so when he was pulled up, I was really surprised," Spawr said. "The next day, Espinoza came by, which I really appreciated. It showed a lot of class. He said the horse had bobbled and he was afraid something was going wrong, so he pulled him up, but when he got him to the outside fence and jogged him, he was fine. He was trying to protect him. He's been fine ever since, but all the jocks must be afraid of him, because I went through a lot of people trying to find someone to ride him."

On Wednesday, Bluesthestandard led from start to finish under jockey Kerwin John in the 1 1/16-mile race for his 17th lifetime victory.

"He's a neat horse. He's like a pet," Spawr said. "He's in the first stall. He loves carrots. He eats so many carrots, I think he's half rabbit. We spoil him, but it's worth it."

Nice double for Baffert, Pegram

Trainer Bob Baffert and owner Mike Pegram won a pair of races on the opening-day card on Wednesday with the 2-year-old Only in Louisiana and the older runner Preachinatthebar, both of whom may return in stakes races, Baffert said Thursday.

Only in Louisiana, a colt by Louis Quatorze, stretched out around two turns in his second lifetime start and crushed maidens by 5 1/4 lengths. He also brought a smile to the face of Eclipse Award-winning journalist Ronnie Virgets, who lost his home in New Orleans to Hurricane Katrina and was visiting Hollywood Park on Wednesday.

"I lived near City Park," Virgets said. "I was wiped out."

Baffert said Only in Louisiana would be pointed to the Grade 1, $250,000 Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 17.

"I'll polish him back up again and go for the Futurity," Baffert said. "I've got a lot of nice 2-year-olds. I've waited to run a lot of them in the fall. I need to win the Kentucky Derby. It's been three years, and people are throwing dirt on my casket."

Preachinatthebar won a 1 1/16-mile money-allowance race by 1 1/2 lengths over Chilean Triple Crown winner Trotamondo, who was making his first start in this country. Preachinatthebar was winning for the fourth time this year, but he has not won a stakes race since the San Felipe Stakes in March 2004. Baffert said he likely would return in the Grade 3, $100,000 Native Diver Handicap on Dec. 10.

Business slow for opener

The combination of rainy weather and a steady diet of dirt racing at Hollywood Park on Wednesday resulted in opening-day figures that were down significantly from last year.

The ontrack attendance was 3,698, down 24.6 percent from last year's 4,903. At last year's 36-day meeting, there was only one day with a lower attendance figure.

The ontrack handle was $848,534, down 18.4 percent from last year's $1,039,635.

The overall handle was $5,494,559, a drop of 18.4 percent from last year's $6,778,370. At last year's meet, there was only one day that had a smaller handle figure.

It was cloudy with occasional showers at Hollywood Park on Thursday, and racing was conducted on a track rated as wet-fast by Equibase. The forecast was for improved weather over the weekend.

Stewards let bumpy result stand

Hollywood Park's board of stewards had its first difficult call of the meet in Wednesday's sixth race, and their decision to let the result stand left onlookers hopeful that there wouldn't be as many controversial decisions this meet as there were at Del Mar and Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

Mayacama, under Patrick Valenzuela, bumped with Square Pants and Martin Pedroza in the stretch, but the stewards ruled that the incident didn't affect the outcome.

Hollywood Park's stewards are Darrel McHargue, Kim Sawyer, and Tom Ward, who are working as a team for the first time.

* Garrett Gomez has been suspended for seven days, beginning Wednesday, for the disqualification of Direct Connect in last Sunday's California Cup Juvenile. The incident sent jockey Paul Atkinson, aboard Irish Bar, tumbling. According to Ward, jockeys now will begin suspensions one week after a ruling is issued, which is why Gomez's suspension does not take effect until next week.

* Mike Superstein, a syndicated local handicapper whose selections are published in several Southern California newspapers, had the rare feat on Wednesday of sweeping the card, with all eight winners on top.