12/30/2003 12:00AM

Change of style for King Robyn?


ARCADIA, Calif. - has won six sprint stakes in the last year, all racing on or near the lead.

But when he tries for his seventh, and fifth consecutive, stakes win in Thursday's Grade 3, $100,000 El Conejo Handicap over 5 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita, King Robyn may have to come from off the pace.

His trainer, Jeff Mullins, insists that won't be a problem.

"King Robyn doesn't need the lead," said Mullins.

Mullins has entered another fast horse, Boston Common, who won the Grade 2 Jerome Handicap at Belmont Park in 2002 and the Oakland Handicap last month in the mud at Golden Gate Fields.

Boston Common's job will be to carry his speed as far as possible in a race that includes several other front-runners - Avanzado, Casas Caballo, Giovannetti, and Rojo Toro.

Avanzado and King Robyn are the 119-pound highweights. Avanzado won two stakes at Santa Anita last year - the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap in January and the Grade 1 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap in October.

In the 2003 El Conejo, he failed to make the lead and finished last. In the Vernon Underwood Stakes on Thanksgiving, Avanzado led turning for home but faded to finish fifth of six.

King Robyn has led in his last three wins, but he rallied from third to win the Green Flash Handicap over five furlongs on turf at Del Mar last August. All of his wins have come on firm or fast tracks. If the main track Thursday is sealed because of wet conditions, it could work in King Robyn's favor. Mullins hopes the track will not be sloppy.

"As long as it's firm, it doesn't matter," Mullins said. "If he gets a loose, cuppy track, he's not as good."

Casas Caballo, Giovannetti, and Rojo Toro are coming off layoffs.

Casas Caballo, making his stakes debut, scored two impressive wins at Hollywood Park last summer.

Giovannetti won the Phoenix Gold Cup at Turf Paradise last March, but is on a four-race losing streak. He has not started since July.

Rojo Toro won the San Rafael Stakes last March but was fifth in the San Pedro Stakes later that month, his most recent start.

Hasty Kris could benefit from a hot pace, but the distance may be too short for him and he probably won't start if the track is fast, trainer John Sadler said.

"He's mud only, but the distance doesn't suit him," Sadler said.

Hasty Kris won the seven-furlong Kenny Noe Handicap at Calder on Dec. 13. He won optional claimers over 6 1/2 and seven furlongs in his last spring at Hollywood Park.