12/11/2003 12:00AM

Calkins Road won't have it easy


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - When he won the California Cup Classic one year ago, Calkins Road appeared to be on his way to top of the California-bred rankings. Since then, however, he has finished in front of just five horses in three races. And things do not get any easier on Saturday, when he tries to rebound against a strong field of Cal-breds in the $95,000-added On Trust Handicap at Hollywood Park.

The On Trust, a one-turn race over 7 1/2 furlongs, drew a deep field of 11, including the vastly improved Green Team, who won last month's Cal Cup Sprint; the speedy Hot Market; and the venerable Grey Memo. It is one of the best betting races of the meet.

John Shirreffs, the trainer of Calkins Road, believes his colt has a chance to run a much-improved race in the On Trust. This is only his fourth race of the year, and only his third start since September. He was seventh when defending his title last month in the Cal Cup Classic.

"I hope he's coming around," Shirreffs said Thursday morning. "He missed a lot of time because of an infection in a front pastern. When he ran on the grass at Bay Meadows, it was a tough race, and then in the Cal Cup, he started to make a move, and then he hung. I just want to see him finish well. To see him running at the end would be a real plus."

Green Team figures to get an ideal trip, just as he did in the Cal Cup Sprint, when he ran six furlongs in 1:07.98 for his third win in four starts since being claimed for $32,000.

Hot Market faded to sixth when favored in the Cal Cup Classic. That was his first start in 10 months, so he has a right to improve off that performance. He won the On Trust last year in a romp, so the distance suits him, and he has won three times in five starts on Hollywood's main track.

Grey Memo won the On Trust in 2000 and was second to Hot Market last year. He is in the midst of an extended losing streak, and seems to have lost a step from his prime, but the return of one of his oldies-but-goodies would make him a significant threat.

Excess Summer faded after pressing the pace in the Seabiscuit Handicap at Santa Anita on Oct. 25, but he won his three prior starts.

Kedington finished second in the Cal Cup Classic to Tizbud in his last start. The expected hot early pace in the On Trust should flatter his late run.