05/31/2007 12:00AM

Buzzards Bay's foes good and plenty


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - A collection of millionaires, turf horses, a sharp allowance race winner, and even a claimer are among the 12 horses in Saturday's $250,000 Californian Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Buzzards Bay, one of three millionaires in the field, will be favored, but does not figure to be an overwhelming choice in the Grade 2 race over 1 1/8 miles.

To reach the winner's circle, Buzzards Bay must catch a tough front-runner in A.P. Xcellent, the winner of an allowance race here in April, and hold off Kip Deville, the winner of two major turf races this year, and Boboman, who was third in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap in March.

Buzzards Bay, the winner of the 2006 Oaklawn Handicap, finished third in the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap on May 5, his 2007 debut. After a poor start he finished 4o1/2 lengths behind race winner Molengao.

"He broke badly and it took him out of his game plan," trainer Ron Ellis said. "He wants to lay up close."

Buzzards Bay will be in pursuit of A.P. Xcellent, who is making his stakes debut on a synthetic track after winning three overnight races on the surface.

"What I like is that when horses try to go by him, he really digs in," said his trainer, John Shirreffs.

A.P. Xcellent could be challenged by Wilko, the winner of the 2004 Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Winless in his last 16 starts, Wilko was a troubled third in an optional claimer here on May 1.

Kip Deville returns after finishing sixth in Monday's Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile. He raced behind a slow pace and did not quicken late.

"He didn't like being on the inside," said Chip Dutrow, assistant to his brother Rick. "He likes to be on the outside and stalking."

Boboman, a Group 1 winner on turf last year, must prove he can be effective over 1 1/8 miles after finishing third in the Oaklawn Handicap in April.

"He probably does want more [distance]," trainer Richard Mandella said. "I put blinkers on him and sharpened him up a little bit."

Also in the race are the former $40,000 claimer Sun Boat and two important shippers, Perfect Drift and Saint Stephen.

Perfect Drift, a winner of 11 of 44 starts and $4,679,185, has lost 13 consecutive starts. Saint Stephen won the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap here last December.