10/30/2003 12:00AM

General Moody better on turf


ARCADIA, Calif. - After General Moody won a one-mile grass race for maidens on Oct. 3, trainer Bob Baffert was convinced he had found the gelding's best surface.

"He doesn't work well on dirt," Baffert said. "I think it's all grass."

Saturday, Baffert's theory will be tested when General Moody makes his stakes debut in the $70,000 Pinjara Stakes for 2-year-olds at Santa Anita. Run at a mile on turf, the Pinjara Stakes is restricted to horses who have not won a stakes at a mile or longer. The race is a prep for the $100,000 Generous Stakes at a mile on turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 30.

Only one of the 11 runners is a stakes winner: The Herc won the Sunny Slope Stakes at six furlongs on dirt on Oct. 18. The Pinjara Stakes is his first start beyond six furlongs.

General Moody has started twice. He finished eighth against California-bred maidens at Del Mar on Aug. 16 and followed with the Oct. 3 win. Baffert opted for the Pinjara instead of the $125,000 California Cup Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles on dirt on Nov. 8.

"I want to stick to something he likes," Baffert said. "He's a different horse on the grass."

On Oct. 3, General Moody was confidently ridden by Ryan Fogelsonger, who kept his mount in fourth to the final turn. General Moody took the lead in the final furlongs.

General Moody will have plenty of pace to follow in the Pinjara.

The Herc led throughout the Sunny Slope Stakes. Kissin Ty, fifth in the Gateway to Glory Stakes at Fairplex Park on Sept. 25, has shown speed in the past and will need that tactic from the rail.

Aside from General Moody, two other entrants have turf experience. Cryptovinsky was third behind General Moody on Oct. 3, and Nister Bere has already made 10 starts on turf this year in France.

Recently bought by Ralph Hawkins and Jim Robinson, Nister Bere beat maidens at 4 1/2 furlongs at a minor track in France in the third start of his career last April, his lone victory.

Nister Bere made three starts in six-furlong allowance races at Deauville in August, finishing third in each start.

Now trained by Jeff Mullins, Nister Bere makes his stakes debut and starts from the outside.

"He's never run two turns," Mullins said. "You don't know what those horses are until you try them. He seems like he's got some talent and he's an aggressive horse."