10/13/2004 11:00PM

Green Team gives locals a favorite


SAN MATEO, Calif. - California Cup Day has become one of the most popular days on the racing calendar, and fans at Bay Meadows will have plenty of local rooting interests Saturday.

Perhaps their best hope is defending Cal Cup Sprint champion Green Team, who ran the fastest Sprint in history last year.

"He seems to be getting good," trainer Jeff Bonde said. "I hope he's Reggie Jackson for us, Mr. October."

Northern California's leading rider, Russell Baze, will be aboard and will also ride Yougottawanna, another previous Cal Cup winner, in the Classic. Baze has five scheduled mounts on the card, including northern California-based Deputy Gold and Our Mango, and Cee's Irish.

Yougottawanna, in his lone Santa Anita race, upset Officer in the 2001 Juvenile.

Winner of the Grade 3 Seabiscuit at Bay Meadows this spring, Yougottawanna also won the Governor's Handicap at Sacramento in his last start after running second to Calkins Road, one of his rivals Saturday, in the $100,000 Joseph T. Grace at Santa Rosa.

"He's going very good," said Baze, who regularly works Yougottawanna for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

Hollendorfer also entered Deputy Gold in the 1 1/2-mile Cal Cup Starter Handicap and Ninebanks in the Mile. Hollendorfer said he would likely scratch Ninebanks.

Northern Californians have traditionally done well in the Starter Handicap. Whisk Spree won in 1993, interrupting a string of four wins in five years by His Legacy. Alki Joe won in 1995 and White Cloud won in 2000.

Allen Severinsen, who trained White Cloud, just claimed Fly and Eagle, who will run in the Starter Handicap.

"Things really fell into place. The horse is really sharp," Severinsen said. "We're taking a shot. There's only one speed horse in the race, and it's really a question of [Fly and Eagle] being able to go that far."

Kent Molinaro, who trained Alki Joe, entered Smoke Till Dawn in the Starter Sprint Handicap. A track record holder at Golden Gate Fields, Smoke Till Dawn has won five straight and will be ridden by David Lopez.

Trainer William E. Morey, third behind Green Team with Trapper in last year's Sprint, entered Almond Blossom in the Distance Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/4 miles on turf. Almond Blossom has been no worse than second in her past five starts.

"She's been closing real strong at 1 1/16 miles and was second at 1 1/8 at Hollywood Park," Morey said, referring to an allowance race June 9. "I don't think distance will be a question."

Our Mango, who won the Elie Destruel at Santa Rosa, will compete in the Distaff at 6 1/2 furlongs on the turf.

* Saturday's Bay Meadows feature, a $50,000 allowance claimer at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, will feature the Hollendorfer entry of Starspell and Snoopy Cat. Starspell has 3 wins and 2 seconds in his past 5 starts.