05/27/2003 11:00PM

Excess Summer much improved under Mullins


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Win or lose, trainer Jeff Mullins will make news Friday night at Hollywood Park. Mullins figures to win the feature race with California-bred gelding Excess Summer and provide more fodder for conspiracy theorists who believe Mullins is feeding his horses something other than hay, oats, and water.

And what if Mullins loses? Then California Horse Racing Board officials could congratulate themselves for issuing a press release last week stating they were reviewing form reversals and naming Mullins as a trainer they were scrutinizing. After all, Mullins started the meet 7 for 9. Is anyone that good? Well, yes. But he also is human, and when Mullins won "only" one race from seven starters last weekend, those officials must have been patting themselves on the back.

Mullins claimed Excess Summer, a son of In Excess, from Mike Machowsky for $40,000 off a neck win in his career debut. Mullins treated Excess Summer for worms, doctored his teeth, trained him on a permissible level of clenbuterol, and ran him back. Excess Summer improved more than four lengths one month later, and beat a starter allowance field by 2 1/2 lengths. His Beyer Speed Figure improved 10 points.

"The only thing I did is give him a chance," Mullins said, adding that now "he's tearing down the barn."

The win by Excess Summer was flattered Monday when the horse he beat, Coconut Mango, returned to win by three lengths. Excess Summer is 2 for 2 lifetime, and drawn perfectly on the far outside in the seven-furlong race. His rivals include Imperial King, who has won four straight claiming races; front-runner Show Me the Moolah; presser Mcmanus; and closers Jack's Silver and Black Bart.

Excess Summer figures to get a perfect trip from his outside post. He proved in his starter allowance win that he can sit behind the speed, and Mullins said, "I can't wait to run him long on grass. He's got that big, long, steady stride. You can't go wrong with In Excesses."

Tyler Baze is aboard Excess Summer, the only 3-year-old in the field, and with a weight break of at least five pounds.

The presence of speedball Show Me the Moolah provides a target for Excess Summer and Imperial King.

"Seven furlongs helps a closing type horse, but it sure seems speed is dominant on Friday nights," said Mark Glatt, Imperial King's trainer.