05/09/2005 11:00PM

'Dan' looking in peak form for feature


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Danthebluegrassman might not win the feature race Thursday at Hollywood Park, but no starter is more qualified. Six older horses race seven furlongs in the three-other-than/optional $100,000 claimer, and Danthebluegrassman enters with solid credentials.

Bob Baffert trains Danthebluegrassman for owner Mike Pegram. Whatever questions there were about the 6-year-old's physical condition April 13 following a one-year layoff were answered when he raced a mile at Santa Anita. pressed strong fractions, hit the front after six furlongs, then got swallowed by the favorite, Awesome Dividend, and finished third.

It was an outstanding effort by Danthebluegrassman, whose three sharp works since he raced suggest he has held his form. Baffert drops him back to one turn Thursday, and the 6-for-22 Danthebluegrassman cannot avoid a good trip Thursday in a race filled with speed. Tyler Baze rides Danthebluegrassman, who is eligible because he is entered for a $100,000 claiming price.

A host of speed should lead to a contested pace Thursday, and Danthebluegrassman has shown he can be competitive rallying from behind. , also trained by Baffert, makes his first start since finishing third in the Phoenix Gold Cup. He has won 3 of 4 starts at Hollywood Park, and from his outside post he does not need to commit to the lead. Garrett Gomez rides Indian Country, who has won 3 of 7 starts.

, Roi Charmant, and Siphonizer are all quick, but do they have enough to last?

Roi Charmant routinely runs his opening quarter-mile in 21.20 seconds, followed by a half-mile time in under 44. But he also tends to weaken late, and the seven-furlong distance could prove his downfall.

Siphonizer and Wild Babe finished two-three in a similar race April 1 at Santa Anita, but there were only four starters, making the race difficult to assess.

If there is an upsetter, it might be Tobe Suave, a recent arrival from Canada who has been working super for his comeback after winning 4 of 11 at Hastings Park and Woodbine. Although the speed figures he earned suggest he is overmatched, handicappers need only review the 2005 Kentucky Derby to be reminded that speed figures are only one facet of the handicapping process.