09/23/2002 12:00AM

Green Team helps stable get rolling


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Trainer Dennis Hopkins can thank a mule for the presence of Green Team in his barn.

Green Team, a stakes-placed Harris Farms homebred, figures to be one of the favorites in Wednesday's Bay Meadows feature, a six-furlong $40,000 optional claimer.

Green Team is one of the first Thoroughbreds Hopkins has trained for Harris Farms, one of California's top breeding and racing operations.

"I started with Harris three years ago," Hopkins said. "I started with a mule, Southern Preacher."

Last year, John Harris sent Hopkins a pair of 2-year-old Thoroughbreds, Benefit Party and Green Team.

Benefit Party ran second in her debut for a $20,000 claiming price, and was claimed from her next start, in which she also ran second.

Green Team won his debut by a nose, then ran second in the Everett Nevin in his second start at Pleasanton. He later finished third in the $101,000 Cloud Memorial at Fresno, finishing the year with one win, two seconds, and three thirds and earnings of $72,853 in nine starts.

"He did real well," Hopkins said. "In Fresno, if he didn't run into the horse in front of him, he might have won. He's not a quitter. He proved it that day."

Green Team won his 3-year-old debut on Jan. 24 at Santa Anita in a $50,000 Cal-bred allowance race before getting a seven-month vacation.

"It was time for a rest," Hopkins said. "He'd just had a long campaign, and we decided it was best to give him some time."

Green Team returned to the races on Sept. 6, finishing fourth to older horses in a strong allowance race won by the red-hot Winner's Code.

"We needed to give him a start," Hopkins said. "He was a little short. Another work would have helped. Then he stumbled out of the gate."

Green Team stalked early and moved into second with a three-wide move on the turn. He gave way grudgingly in the lane and was beaten two lengths. He earned an 81 Beyer Speed Figure, three points shy of his career best.

Green Team's main competition Wednesday may come from the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained entry of Rippin N Roarin and No Toro, both of whom were claimed by Hollendorfer at Del Mar; and Almudin, who finished a length in front of Green Team in an allowance race last year.

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