12/26/2001 12:00AM

Debonair Joe tries to make amends

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Poor manners cost Debonair Joe his second stakes win in the Free House Stakes earlier this month at Hollywood Park. Debonair Joe crossed the wire first in the Free House, but was disqualified for causing interference at the start.

Redemption may come in Friday's $150,000 open division of the California Breeders' Champion Stakes at Santa Anita. A winner of two of eight starts, the well-traveled Debonair Joe is the likely favorite in the seven-furlong Champion Stakes for statebreds.

Trained by Craig Lewis, Debonair Joe won the Beau Brummel Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs at Fairplex Park in September and later finished fourth in the California Cup Juvenile over 1 1/16 miles, a distance that may have been beyond his range.

In the Free House Stakes, over 6 1/2 furlongs, Debonair Joe ducked inward and bumped eventual third-place finisher Main Player. The stewards demoted Debonair Joe to third.

Friday's race has a stronger field than the Free House. Cable Ready, the promoted winner of the Free House, returns, as does Main Player. Also in the field is recent maiden winner Earl of Danby; Vito Corleone, who was stakes-placed at Golden Gate Fields; and Funny Meeting, who is unraced since Del Mar.

Cable Ready will be well-supported. He won a $32,000 claiming race for maidens on Nov. 4 in his only start before the Free House Stakes.

Trainer Jim Cassidy was pleased with Cable Ready's performance in the Free House. "I minded my business and was a good second," Cassidy said, referring to Cable Ready. "He's been a pleasant surprise."

Ridden by Brice Blanc, Cable Ready is likely to stalk the expected leader Iza Chili Bean and Funny Meeting. "Brice thinks he's a little better [than in his last race]," Cassidy said. "If the speed goes in there, we'll probably be laying about fourth."

Vito Corleone is another stalker with a chance. Trained by Armando Lage, he has been stakes-placed twice.

Earl of Danby could give trainer Paco Gonzalez and owners John Toffan and Trudy McCaffery a sweep of the California Breeders' Champion Stakes on Saturday. They start leading contender Fragrant Cloud in the filly division in the fourth race.

Earl of Danby won his debut by four lengths at Hollywood Park on Dec. 8.

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