11/12/2001 12:00AM

Going to the bullpen


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Bob Baffert's prospects for the 2002 Triple Crown and the major preps of the late winter and spring are unclear as the 2001 racing season winds down.

Last year at this time, Baffert's hopes were led by Point Given, who had finished second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. This year, the group has no standout.

Officer, who won the Champagne Stakes in early October, had his reputation tarnished by losses in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Belmont Park on Oct. 27 and the California Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Nov. 3.

Officer will appear in the Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 15, a race that Point Given won last year.

The rest of the team is a cast of unknowns that Baffert is trying to sort out.

Baffert ran two maidens in a six-furlong sprint on Sunday - Clay Time and Sugar Babe, who finished third and fourth, respectively.

"The bullpen is going," Baffert said. "I've got some nice ones, but I'll need a few starts before I know more. The hard part is getting them in. It's like the L.A. airport on a foggy night."

Baffert named High Thunder, Strive, Mountain Rage, and Danthebluegrassman as colts to follow.

High Thunder finished second in his debut at Del Mar on Aug. 11. Owned by Bob and Beverly Lewis, High Thunder recently underwent surgery to have a bone chip removed from a knee and will resume training this week.

Strive is an unraced colt by Deputy Minister who is owned by Marty Wygod.

Danthebluessgrassman earned a gritty victory in a maiden race at 1 1/16 miles in Sunday's opener race, battling with Diamond Hope through the stretch before winning by a half-length in 1:44.48. Sunday's race was Danthebluegrassman's third career start.

"He looked like he was going to cough it up, but he kept going," Baffert said.

Mountain Rage was second in the Pinjara Stakes on turf at Santa Anita last month. While he may start in the $200,000 Generous Stakes on Nov. 24, Baffert would prefer a first-condition allowance race, but those races seldom fill.

On Saturday, Baffert starts Popular in the $100,000 Hollywood Prevue Stakes, a Grade 3 over seven furlongs that is a prep to the Hollywood Futurity.

Popular won a maiden race over six furlongs in his second start at Santa Anita on Oct. 20.

All of those prospects exist in the shadow of Officer, who will need a victory in the Hollywood Futurity to earn back the respect of twice-stung bettors.

"Officer is still the chairman of the group," Baffert said. "He'll be ready to roll. He's got his two-turn experience and that's so important for the babies."

Frankel may start quartet in Hollywood Derby

Bobby Frankel may have as many four starters in the $500,000 Hollywood Derby on Nov. 25.

Frankel has five candidates, but two of them - Blue Steller and No Slip - are owned by Amerman Racing. Since both need to be supplemented for $15,000 on Wednesday, according to Frankel, only one is likely to start.

The other Frankel-trained runners are Aldebaran, the winner of the Nassau County Handicap at Belmont Park on Oct. 28; Denon, a European import; and Mizzen Mast, the winner of the minor Bien Bien Stakes Nov. 7.

Fantastic Filly, the winner of the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes last April, is preparing to return to training, Frankel said. She was turned out in the spring after being diagnosed with a knee injury that threatened her racing career.

"The X-rays said she'll be all right," Frankel said. "She's going back into training."

Sky Jack returning after nine-month absence

Sky Jack, who won the 2000 California Cup Classic and Native Diver Handicap, is expected to return to training in the next month, following nine months off due to injury, trainer Doug O'Neill said.

For the last few weeks, Sky Jack has been in training at nearby Hideaway Farms, and he is expected to join O'Neill's stable this month. A start at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting is likely.

"Hopefully, three or four months after he gets in here, he'll be ready," O'Neill said.

Caller One, Swept Overboard ramping up

Two of the first four finishers of the Breeders' Cup Sprint may reappear at the current Hollywood Park meeting.

Caller One, a game third in the BC Sprint, is being considered for the $100,000 Vernon Underwood Stakes at six furlongs on Dec. 2 or the $300,000 De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel on Saturday.

Trained by Jim Chapman, Caller One worked a half-mile in 47 seconds on Saturday.

Swept Overboard finished fourth in the Sprint, closing along the rail to end up a length behind Squirtle Squirt.

Trainer Craig Dollase has mentioned the Underwood, the $200,000 Hollywood Turf Express at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf on Nov. 23, or possibly a longer race, such as the Citation Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on turf on Nov. 24, as possibilities for Swept Overboard.

Delahoussaye to sit, but file complaint, too

Jockey Eddie Delahoussaye said Sunday that he will serve a three-day suspension for causing interference in the fifth race on Nov. 7, but he also has filed a complaint with the California Horse Racing Board regarding the decision.

Delahoussaye will miss Wednesday through Friday for his ride on Martel in the fifth race on Nov. 7, a race that had two disqualifications. Martel was disqualified and placed behind Dream Counter, whom he was ruled to have bothered in early stretch. Race winner Tavasco was disqualified and placed fourth for bothering Martel in the final furlong, but his jockey, Mike Smith, was not suspended.

"How can they give me days and not give the other jockey days?" Delahoussaye said. "If I wasn't paying attention, I could have gone down."

* A memorial service for Anita Capitumini, who died on Nov. 7 after a lengthy illness, will be held on Monday, Nov. 19. Capitumini was a trainer's bookkeeper and waitress at Southern California tracks. The service is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Live Oak Memorial Park at 200 East Duarte Rd. in Monrovia.