04/07/2002 11:00PM

Dig For It rides in on losing streak

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ARCADIA, Calif. - When the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap - the showcase race of the winter-spring meeting - was run on March 2, it was heavily criticized for drawing a weak field.

A month later, it turns out that might have been a harsh assessment.

Third-place finisher Kudos won Saturday's Oaklawn Handicap. Sienne, who was ninth, won the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap on Saturday at Santa Anita, the same day that 10th-place Freedom Crest finished a respectable third in the San Bernardino Handicap.

On Wednesday, Dig For It puts the Big Cap key race theory to the test in a $64,000 optional claimer over a mile at Santa Anita.

A 7-year-old, Dig For It is attempting to end an eight-race losing streak, dating back to a win in an allowance race over 1 3/16 miles at Hollywood Park in 1:54.85, a track record.

Dig For It, trained by Bruce Headley, is one of three entrants eligible to be claimed for $100,000. None of the five starters has won this year.

"I've got to run him sometime, but I think it's too short for him," Headley said. "It's obvious what his best distance is - a mile and three-sixteenths."

Dig For It is a closer, but there should be ample to pace to set up his rally. Most Likely, who was fourth in the Tokyo City Handicap on March 9, can lead, but may not be fast enough to keep up with Bay Head King or Skip to the Stone, both of whom are trained by Bob Baffert.

Bay Head King was second in the Gallant Bob Handicap at Philadelphia Park last October before joining Baffert's stable. He was last of 13 in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26 and a noncompetitive fourth in an allowance race on the hillside turf course in January.

Skip to the Stone won the Baldwin Stakes and Bay Shore Stakes last year, but has been sixth and seventh in two sprints this year since returning from a layoff. He broke poorly last time, and can lead with a better start.

Kachamandi, entered for a $100,000 claim, will be a longshot. Trained by Barry Abrams, he won a Group 3 in his native Chile last September.

Headley has starters in five of Wednesday's eight races. Since March 23, he has won with six of his last 12 starters. He declined to say which of his runners on Wednesday was his best chance.

"I'm dangerous right now," Headley said. "Nothing would surprise me."

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