05/13/2008 11:00PM

Distance a concern for Bestdressed


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - In his last two starts, Bestdressed unleashed a stretch rally that led to a respectable third-place finish in the Sensational Star Handicap on the 6 1/2-furlong hillside turf course at Santa Anita April 4 and a win in the Barretts Stakes over seven furlongs at Hollywood Park on April 27.

Whether he can be as effective in a six-furlong turf sprint such as Friday's $62,000 El Segundo Stakes at Hollywood Park is a concern to trainer Dan McFarlane.

"It might be too short, but I thought it would be an easier spot against stakes horses," McFarlane said. "He's improving."

Owned by Triple B Farms, Bestdressed, a 4-year-old gelding, appears to be in the best form of his career. A winner of 4 of 19 starts and $172,500, Bestdressed made up four lengths in the final furlong of the Barretts Stakes to win by a length. Jon Court, who was aboard for that victory, has the mount in the El Segundo Stakes, which is restricted to horses that have not won a stakes worth $60,000 or more to the winner since Dec. 1.

The El Segundo has drawn a field of eight, including 2007 stakes winners Unusual Suspect and Zoning In.

Unusual Suspect won three stakes last year, including the California Cup Mile and the Grade 3 Hollywood Turf Express over six furlongs on turf at Hollywood Park. Trained by Barry Abrams, Unusual Suspect is making his second start of the year, having finished fifth in the Grade 3 San Simeon Handicap at Santa Anita last month.

Zoning In, who won the Captain Squire Handicap over six furlongs on turf at Hollywood Park last summer, was a troubled sixth in the California Turf Sprint Championship at Bay Meadows last month. He is likely to be near the front along with One Union, who has placed in two turf stakes in his career.

Aside from Unusual Suspect, the race features two other horses that ran in the San Simeon - Don't Ya Lovett, who was 10th, and Giovanni, who finished last of 11.

Giovanni was the 9-2 favorite when he made his U.S. debut in the San Simeon Handicap. A winner of 5 of 20 starts in New Zealand, he led for the first half-mile but faded through the final quarter-mile to finish nine lengths behind race winner Stoneside.

"It was a baffler," trainer John Sadler said. "The only thing I could come up with was that he was confused by the hill. I'm making excuses. We're going back to the drawing board."