09/19/2002 11:00PM

Could be $100k maiden win

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POMONA, Calif. - Is there another Squirtle Squirt hidden somewhere in the Barretts Juvenile field? Or is the $100,000 stakes just an ordinary race with an extraordinary purse?

Five juvenile colts, four of them maidens, race 6 1/2 furlongs Sunday at Fairplex Park in the Barretts Juvenile, won by Squirtle Squirt in 2000 before he emerged the next season as the country's champion sprinter. It is reasonable to suggest the Barretts field this year is not as strong.

Restricted to 2-year-olds offered at a Barretts auction, the stakes drew only five entries, including two with realistic chances for their first career win in a $100,000 race. Elan finished second in his debut Aug. 26 while Cheverly Gold finished third in his debut Aug. 31. The connections of both colts expect improved efforts.

Elan worked like a bomb before his even-money debut, which simultaneously explains his low odds and flat runner-up performance. "I think he could have won that race if he

didn't have a 57-and-change work, and a 1:11 the week before," said trainer Chris Paasch. "I think those works knocked him out."

Purchased for $100,000 at the Barretts March sale of 2-year-olds in training by Lorraine and Rod Rodriquez, Elan should improve and possibly anchor a sweep of the Fairplex weekend stakes. Paasch and the Rodriguezes entered the filly Ionia in the $100,000 Barretts Debutante on Saturday, a race in which she was listed as the 6-5 morning-line favorite. Elan will be ridden by Goncalino Almeida.

The Barretts Juvenile is the race that second-time starter Cheverly Gold has pointed for all summer, and trainer Jeff Mullins expects an improved showing now that his prep is behind him. Mullins said Cheverly Gold "wasn't really ready to run" in his debut race. "We were just giving him a schooling race, and go from there," Mullins said. "He's done nothing but go straight forward since."

If Cheverly Gold surprised Mullins by finishing as high as third in his debut, he has continued to surprise him in morning works. Saying the colt "loves" Fairplex, Mullins described him as "on fire." Cheverly Gold is a colt by Formal Gold, owned by Ron Parker. Martin Pedroza will ride the second-time starter.

Other entrants in the Juvenile include Charmer Baron, who set a fast pace in a recent starter allowance and finished second. The gray colt by State Performer is owned by Larry and Sheila Ullman, and trained by Don Warren. His only win was in a $40,000 maiden-claimer in June. Second-time starters Love When You City and Taliano also entered.

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