07/21/2002 11:00PM

Comeback on hold for injured Mizzen Mast


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - An unspecified injury will further delay the comeback of Mizzen Mast, one of the country's leading handicap horses, who was scheduled to return Aug. 4 at Del Mar in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap. Trainer Bobby Frankel said Monday that Mizzen Mast came out of a July 15 work at Hollywood Park with an injury that will force him to miss the San Diego while casting uncertainty over the colt's fall campaign.

Mizzen Mast's smashing victories in the Grade 1 Malibu and Grade 2 Strub during the Santa Anita winter meet established the 4-year-old as one the top older horses in the nation. He missed the Santa Anita Handicap in March with foot trouble, however, and instead pointed for a summer campaign at Del Mar. Frankel said Monday he was unsure how long Mizzen Mast would be sidelined, and declined to be specific regarding the injury. Owned by Juddmonte Farms, Mizzen Mast has won five of 11 starts and was a leading contender for the Grade 1 Pacific Classic, a $1 million race Frankel has won six times.

The setback to Mizzen Mast was the latest blow to Frankel's California stable. Graded stakes winners Skimming, Starine, Super Quercus, and Peu A Peu all were injured this season at Hollywood.

Promising juveniles ready to run

Several promising colts, including those from the deep barns of Bob Baffert and Eoin Harty, are in the first 2-year-old race of the meet on Wednesday, but the best of bunch at Del Mar probably won't be seen until at least the weekend.

Baffert is sending out Bull Market, a Holy Bull colt whom Baffert says is "fast." But Baffert has several other prospects waiting to be unleashed, including Vindication, a Seattle Slew colt who worked six furlongs from the gate in 1:12.80 on Sunday morning.

"I've got some 2-year-olds I'm really excited about," said Baffert, who has won the Del Mar Futurity six straight years. "If they perform in the afternoon like they're performing in the morning, I'll be okay."

Baffert said his fillies are "real strong." He said Composure should be ready to roll early in the meet, and he remains high on Atlantic Ocean, a $1.9 million 2-year-old purchase who disappointed in her debut at Hollywood Park.

Harty's runner in Wednesday's third race is Endemaj, an A.P. Indy colt whom assistant Charlie Vigors on Monday said would likely need more distance before showing his best. According to Vigors, the best colts of Harty's, all owned by Godolphin Racing, are Inamorato, who was a maiden winner at Hollywood Park and runs next in the Best Pal Stakes on Aug. 21, and Parhelion, who was third in his debut and is scheduled to return in a maiden race on Saturday.

Godolphin's top filly prospect could turn out to be Joharra, a half-sister to 2001 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Tempera. She is by Kris S., and likely will do better with more distance, Vigors said.

Godolphin has sent several of its top 2-year-olds to Saratoga, including Alajwad, Danuta, and Valiant Edge.

Other newcomers to follow this meet include Dirty Trick, who is entered in Wednesday's third race. His trainer, Bob Hess Jr., said Dirty Trick is "very quick."

"He can go a mile, but I don't know about past a mile," Hess said Monday morning. "He's very sleek, like a panther. I've got no doubt about his ability."

Crowned Dancer, the Hollywood Juvenile winner, and Hollywood maiden winner Gentlemen's Club should be among the meet leaders. Among the fillies, the leader at Hollywood Park was Mel Stute-trained Buffythecenterfold. A newcomer to watch is Indy Groove, an A.P. Indy filly who won a maiden race at Arlington Park for trainer Tom Proctor and has been sent west for the Sorrento Stakes on Aug. 10.

* Kona Gold worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 on Monday morning in preparation for Saturday's $200,000 Bing Crosby Handicap, which Kona Gold won in both 2000 and 2001. His rivals this year are expected to include D'wildcat and Mellow Fellow.

* Affluent, Golden Apples, and Janet, all of whom are nominated to Saturday's $400,000 John C. Mabee/Ramona Handicap, all worked five furlongs on the turf course Monday morning. Golden Apples had the best time of the three, 1:01.40, a full second faster than both Affluent and Janet.

* Sarafan and Suances, both of whom are expected to run in Sunday's $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap, worked six furlongs on turf on Monday. Suances was timed in 1:16, with Sarafan in 1:16.80. Corey Nakatani was aboard Sarafan.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman