03/27/2002 12:00AM

Bring the Heat looks to break through

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ALBANY, Calif. - Even before he purchased Bring the Heat, trainer Wesley Ward believed the colt would be a runner.

The 4-year-old Bring the Heat, who has never finished off the board in six starts, goes for his first stakes victory Saturday in the $100,000 Berkeley Handicap at a mile at Golden Gate Fields.

"I'm very excited about his chances," said Ward, who first noticed Bring the Heat when the horse was working at Santa Anita in preparation for a sale in Florida.

"One of the exercise boys got on him before the sale, and I knew about the horse. I went to the sale to see how much it would cost to buy him."

When Ward went to the sale, he was introduced to three friends from Texas: Dan Butler, James Cassels, and Mike Moore. The four of them agreed to go into a partnership to purchase Bring the Heat, who is a California-bred son of In Excess. Because the Texans had no trainer in California, it was agreed Ward would train Bring the Heat.

Bring the Heat did not make his debut until midway through his 3-year-old year.

"He's had some problems to overcome," Ward said. "He's a big, massive horse, around 1,400 pounds. He had typical 2-year-old problems and got over them."

Bring the Heat won his first two starts and then ran third in the Real Good Deal Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 19. He has raced three times since coming back in December, including a wire-to-wire victory in a Feb. 17 allowance race at Santa Anita in his first start at a mile.

The Berkeley looks as if it will have plenty of front-runners, but Ward is confident Bring the Heat can come from off the pace.

Jockey Gary Stevens worked him at Hollywood Park "and got him to learn to settle early," Ward said. "Even though he went wire to wire in his last start, he relaxed and slowed the pace down early. That last race was basically an educational one. He came out of the race much more relaxed."

Frank Alvarado will ride Bring the Heat in Saturday's race, and he flew to Southern California to work the colt last Sunday.

"This is one of the more difficult horses to ride," Ward said. "Some are easy, but with this horse I wanted Frank to see what he's like. He'll break off like he's going to run a 21[-second] quarter, but he'll rate if you ask him."

* Genteel World, who won her maiden race at one mile over the turf in her last start, will make her first start against winners in a $40,000 optional claimer at one mile on the turf in Friday's Golden Gate Fields feature. Genteel World has the only turf victory among the eight 3-year-old fillies who will compete in the race.

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