04/01/2002 1:00AM

Carava gets close to his goal


ARCADIA, Calif. - With three weeks remaining in the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, trainer Jack Carava is on course for a personal-best season.

Through Sunday, Carava had saddled 16 winners, three fewer than his total in the 1996-97 and 2000-01 meetings.

"If I won four or five [more] races, I'd be happy," he said.

Wednesday, Carava has two live starters who can help reach that goal. Nates Colony starts in the second race, while Bettor Royalty is entered in the featured seventh race. Both will be ridden by Martin Pedroza, who is closely allied with Carava this season.

Bettor Royalty drew the outside post in the seventh race, a $53,000 allowance race for California-breds over six furlongs. A 4-year-old, Bettor Royalty began his career with Carava in November 2000 and won two races at Hollywood Park last summer before being claimed for $50,000 by trainer Bob Hess Jr.

Bettor Royalty made 10 starts for Hess, finishing third in the minor Foothill Stakes at Fairplex Park last September and winning a $60,000 claimer at Hollywood Park last November.

A month ago, the owners transferred Bettor Royalty to Carava. On March 15, Bettor Royalty finished second by a neck in a $40,000 claimer for 4-year-olds.

"He was in good shape when I got him, very similar to when I left him," Carava said. "I just had to keep him happy."

Despite his claiming credentials, Bettor Royalty fits in the allowance race, which has not drawn a strong field among the seven entrants.

Another Gear, Ride and Shine, R Meadow Luck, and Take It Outside were well beaten in their last starts at this level. Irish Muldoon was fourth in a starter allowance last November. Revelling makes his first start since finishing sixth in the 2000 California Cup Juvenile.

Nates Colony has been a busy horse at this meeting. In the second race, he has five rivals in a starter allowance race over 1 1/4 miles on turf worth $50,000.

Claimed for $32,000 following a win on dirt over 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 27, Nates Colony has made three starts for a partnership, finishing first, second, and third with earnings of $43,280.

The 5-year-old Nates Colony was third in a $62,500 claimer over 1 1/2 miles on turf on March 21. His biggest danger on Wednesday is Sharp Play, who won his U.S. debut at Golden Gate Fields on March 9.

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