05/28/2001 12:00AM

Carava, Moore's Flat are sharp


ARCADIA, Calif. - Five weeks into the spring-summer meet at Hollywood Park, it seems as if Jack Carava is wearing a big bull's-eye on his back. That's what happens when you win with 31 percent of your starters, and enter midseason atop the trainer standings. "It's a nice position to be in," Carava said.

Carava enters the Wednesday card with 12 winners 38 starters. Through Sunday, he held a one-victory lead over second-place Bob Baffert, two in front of Richard Mandella. Baffert entered two horses Wednesday, but Carava will be the most active trainer on the card. He has four live starters, including likely favorite Moore's Flat in the seventh-race feature.

Moore's Flat heads a field of six racing 1 3/16 miles in the classified allowance, for nonwinners of a graded stakes on dirt in 2001.

Carava originally was skeptical about entering Moore's Flat. "I thought I was being thrown to the wolves," he said.

However, Grade 1 winner Skimming skipped the race, leaving 7-year-old Moore's Flat as the one to beat. His rivals include consistent Dig for It, Brazilian import John Dool, and longshots Guillamou City, Jack Grandi, and Milk Wood.

Carava claimed Moore's Flat for $80,000 in March at Santa Anita with the intention of running him in a $100,000 stakes race April 28 at Fonner Park. It looked like a smart move - the gelding was 6-5 going into the gate, but went one-paced throughout and finished a half-length back in third.

"It was really windy that day, and Martin [Pedroza] said he didn't feel like he was getting a hold of the track," Carava said. "He's a big, lumbering horse, and even though only got beat a half-length, I was disappointed. I don't think those two who finished ahead of him would have much chance in this race [Wednesday]."

A 24-hour van ride from Nebraska to California did not set back Moore's Flat. "I wasn't planning on running him until he came back around, but 10 days ago he started doing really well," Carava said.

The Wednesday feature favors Moore's Flat, whose tactical speed should play well against only one other serious pace foe, Dig For It. The new shooter in the race is John Dool, an import from Brazil making his U.S. debut. Trainer Eduardo Inda preferred to run the colt a shorter distance, but his owner sent him to Inda with instructions for dirt only.

"He's kind of lazy coming out of the gate," Inda said. "He's training well, he's finishing good in every work, but I'd rather run him a mile and a sixteenth."

While Moore's Flat figures to be heavily favored race seven, Carava's three other starters also should gain support. They are Big Team Spirit in race 4, Heaven Came Down in race 5, and Smokeville in race 8.