03/18/2004 12:00AM

Can Lifestyle turn rich, famous?


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Wesley Ward won three races at three different racetracks on opposite coasts Wednesday, including the Irish O'Brien Stakes at Santa Anita with Bear Fan. It is a 4-year-old colt named Lifestyle, though, who may give the former rider his biggest thrills before the year is out.

Lifestyle turned in the most impressive debut performance of the meeting this side of Madcap Escapade when he trounced maiden special weight competition by 9 3/4 lengths here last Friday. A son of Indian Charlie, Lifestyle covered seven furlongs in 1:22.43 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 despite being taken in hand by jockey Joe Bravo once the outcome was no longer in doubt.

What makes the effort all the more impressive is that Ward purchased Lifestyle only 12 days before the race. He immediately shipped the colt cross-country and worked him just once at Palm Meadows before putting him in the entries.

Ward bought Lifestyle for owner Roger King out of the Thoroughbred Corp. dispersal at the Barretts sale in Pomona, Calif., on March 2. They paid $300,000 for a colt who had originally cost $1.1 million at the 2001 September yearling sales in Kentucky.

"He's an awesome physical specimen, and I researched him closely before the sale," Ward said. "I spoke with Roger, and we decided we'd go up to $350,000 for him, which is a lot of money for a 4-year-old maiden. We were kind of rolling the dice, but then again Roger is the kind of guy who likes to roll dice."

Ward says he plans on giving Lifestyle plenty of time before bringing him back for his second start.

"Even though it appeared he had an easy time the other day, he had shipped cross-country and had only one work in five weeks leading up to the race," said Ward. "There's an allowance race going a 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs on Derby Day, and right now that's what we're aiming for."

Ward also plans to start Bear Fan in the $250,000 Humana Distaff at seven furlongs on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

Bear Fan won her turf debut in the Irish O'Brien. It was her second consecutive stakes victory, following a win in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap last month at Laurel.

They meet again

Prince Arch and Pa Pa Da renew their rivalry when they top a full field of 12 3-year-olds in Saturday's $60,000 Caltech Stakes.

Prince Arch beat Pa Pa Da by a length in an entry-level allowance on Jan. 17, and the two returned five weeks later to finish second and third behind the 3-5 Kitten's Joy in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes.

Tap Day won the Dave Feldman stakes over a sloppy track on Jan. 18 and adds blinkers for his turf debut.

Shakespeare, Prepster, and Saratoga Episode all enter the race off a victory over the turf.

War Trace shows power

War Trace captured Wednesday's finale by only a half-length, but his effort was one of the most visually spectacular performances of the season.

War Trace had been a disappointment in his two previous starts, both on dirt, but trainer James Toner expected better things when he switched War Trace, a son of the multiple Grade 1 winner Memories of Silver, to the turf. But even Toner never expected to witness the type of race War Trace ran Wednesday.

War Trace stumbled so badly after the break he nearly unseated jockey Edgar Prado. He ran into traffic problems on several occasions and still had only one horse beaten after taking up and swinging out past the middle of the track at the head of the stretch.

But War Trace accelerated suddenly when he finally got in the clear and within an eighth of a mile had exploded past the entire field. He caught 4-5 favorite Ecclesiastic about 70 yards from the wire and easily pulled away while taken in hand by Prado in the final strides.

"That was incredible," Toner said while watching a replay of the race. "I've never seen so much acceleration. It's been a long time since I've gotten that excited or seen a horse finish like that. If he can just turn out to be half of what his mother was I'll be thrilled."

War Trace's victory came just 72 hours after Toner sent out Coney Kitty to capture the Grade 3 Hillsborough Handicap at Tampa Bay Downs.

No set spot for Wild Wadi

Wild Wadi, who earned a Beyer Figure of 95 winning his maiden by two lengths in his 3-year-old debut here Feb. 21, worked a half-mile in 50 seconds at Palm Meadows on Thursday for trainer Steve Young.

"He's nominated to everything, but I'm not sure where he'll run next," said Young, who purchased Wild Wadi privately for owners Jon and Sarah Kelly in December. "I'll likely try to stretch him out for his next start, either in an allowance race or a stakes."