08/29/2001 11:00PM

Comeback time for Forest Camp - again


DEL MAR, Calif. - For the second time, Forest Camp is attempting to revive a career that began with such promise in 1999.

Now a 4-year-old, Forest Camp tries to defend his title in Saturday's restricted $70,000 Pirate's Bounty Handicap over six furlongs at Del Mar, which will be his first start in 10 months.

At least Forest Camp is returning to his favorite track.

Forest Camp is unbeaten in three starts at Del Mar, including the Grade 2 Del Mar Futurity in 1999. He has never won at any other track.

Plagued by injuries, Forest Camp finished fourth in the Forest Hills Handicap at Belmont Park last October. He missed training earlier this year because of a hock infection.

His goal for this year is the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Belmont Park, according to Eduardo Inda, who took over training Forest Camp from Bob Baffert in early 2000.

Facing eight others, Forest Camp should be near the pace in the Pirate's Bounty, but is unlikely to lead. Freespool, who won the Phoenix Gold Cup and Oakland handicaps earlier this year, and Gibson County, the winner of the Answer Do Stakes on turf at Hollywood Park last month, will ensure a fast pace.

Forest Camp will likely stalk those two, along with Capo di Capo and Love All the Way, who are also contenders.

"He's training very good," Inda said of Forest Camp. "He's more relaxed now. He's 4 and he's not as speed crazy this time."

Inda envisions Saturday's race as a prep to the Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita on Oct. 6.

"If we're going to the Breeders' Cup, we need to get some points," Inda said.

The Pirate's Bounty was intended to be one of two restricted stakes on the undercard of Saturday's Palomar Handicap, but the other stakes, the El Cajon Stakes for 3-year-olds, did not draw a sufficient number of entries.

Palmeiro, who would have been a top contender in the El Cajon, will be pointed to the $150,000 Jerome Handicap at Belmont Park on Sept. 15, trainer John Sadler said.