09/13/2001 11:00PM

Expected Program puts streak on line


POMONA, Calif. - While undefeated Expected Program will be heavily favored Sunday in the $100,000 Barretts Juvenile Stakes at Fariplex Park, others see the six-and-a-half-furlong sprint as more than a one-horse race. That includes Paul Assinesi, trainer of potential upsetter Holdthehelm.

"Expected Program should be odds-on, but he's never really run the turns that well," Assenisi noted, "you just hope you're drawn inside him." Fairplex is a five-eighths mile track. Unfortunately for Assinesi, Holdtheheld drew post 6 while Expected Program drew post 3.

The Barretts, for 2-year-olds who were offered for sale in a Barretts auction, marks the first start in three months for Expected Program. A two-time stakes winner at the spring-summer meet at Hollywood Park, Expected Program won his debut despite blowing the turn, and drifted out winning the Willard Proctor Stakes. He ran straight winning the Haggin on June 17.

The habitual drift and three-month layoff are flaws bettors will likely forgive. Expected Program's Beyer Speed Figures - 84 last time, 95 one start back - suggest he will be tough to beat under Tyler Baze. However, stakes-race favorites have fallen short of expectations at the Los Angeles County Fair. Through Thursday, stakes favorites were 0-for-6; thoroughbred favorites overall had won 22 of 61 (36 percent).

Holdthehelm won his third start July 16 at Hollywood Park, after which Assinesi and owners Judy and Bradley Carmel began planning for Fairplex. "I'd been pointing for this race all along, so we gave him a race at Del Mar," Assinesi said. Holdtheheld had been off five weeks when he finished fourth, while earning a 76 Beyer.

"He got beat two and a half lengths, and (jockey Martin Pedroza) didn't beat him up," Assinesi said. Holdthehelm must improve further to win Sunday, while Northern California shipper Kiss An Angel enters with a two-race win streak and contending figures. The five-start veteran won a maiden race July 1 at Pleasanton, and came right back Aug. 5 at Santa Rosa to win a stakes with an 84 Beyer.

Other contenders include Del Mar maiden winners Due Seaason and Vito Corleone, Sacramento maiden winner Affirm Cat, and second-time starter Delong.

*Handle mushroomed Thursday at Fairplex, up 17 percent over the corresponding day one year ago. Total handle Thursday was $5.2 million, up from $4.4 million. The increase directly corresponds to out-of-state handle, which was up $800,000. The increase removes some sting from Wednesday's 60 percent decline.