06/17/2002 11:00PM

Eric Da Bomb due for a win

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - After losses by a head and a neck, Eric Da Bomb deserves a break. He will get one Thursday in the race 7 feature at Hollywood Park. Seven entered the one-other-than, 1 1/16-mile allowance, and the expected scratch of front-runner Big Apple softens the pace scenario and favors a horse with tactical speed such as Eric Da Bomb.

Claimed last July for $20,000, Eric Da Bomb since has earned more than $62,000 while winning 1 of 8 for Class Racing Stable and partners. Although Eric Da Bomb has not raced since May 3, trainer Nick Hines is confident the 5-year-old gelding, 5 for 25 overall, will deliver a top effort Thursday.

"He's sharp, he's as good as he's ever been, and he tends to run his best race when he's had time between starts," said Hines. He shows only one recorded work since his last race, but according to Hines, a May 21 five-furlong work went unrecorded. With two sharp works and a series of two-minute licks, he hits the $51,000 allowance in top condition.

Eric Da Bomb is a front-runner, but Hines noted, "he's versatile, he doesn't need to be on the lead." He won't be Thursday. Here Me Out stretches out from a maiden sprint, while Dinnerathepalms drew outside and must produce speed or be caught wide. The only other horse with main-track speed would have been Big Apple, but trainer Bob Baffert said Tuesday that the colt would be scratched after getting sick.

That leaves Eric Da Bomb and jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. positioned for a pressing trip. "He always runs well fresh, he is training great, and he loves this track," said Hines. Eric Da Bomb also earned pace and speed figures in his last start that exceed par for the first allowance condition. To win, Eric Da Bomb must put away the speed and hold off the rally of Pleasantly Perfect.

A $725,000 colt by Pleasant Colony, Pleasantly Perfect posted back-to-back triple-digit Beyers during the winter meet at Santa Anita, rallying from well off the pace to beat maidens, then finishing second vs. allowance runners. Trained by Richard Mandella, Pleasantly Perfect may be compromised by the Hollywood track profile.

In the last month, 23 of the 28 dirt races at 1 1/16 miles were won by a horse within two lengths of the pacesetter after the first half-mile. Although Pleasantly Perfect adds blinkers, he may not have enough gas to catch Eric Da Bomb.

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