12/04/2012 2:52PM

Hollywood Park: Fast Bullet clearly the one to beat

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Bob Baffert scratched Fast Bullet from Sunday’s Vernon O. Underwood Stakes in favor of Thursday’s seventh race over 6 1/2 furlongs.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Three days of dry weather, and an optional claimer instead of a graded stakes, will make Fast Bullet a heavy favorite in Thursday’s seventh race at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Fast Bullet, sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 3, was entered for Sunday’s Grade 3 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes, which was run after a weekend of wet weather.

Trainer Bob Baffert scratched Fast Bullet on Sunday in favor of Thursday’s race over 6 1/2 furlongs, concerned that a deep and heavy main track at Hollywood Park would not suit the lightly raced colt.

“We didn’t want to run him on that kind of surface,” Baffert said.

Owned by Zayat Stables, Fast Bullet had made only three starts. The BC Sprint was his first race since a win in an allowance race here in November 2011. In the BC Sprint, Fast Bullet was as close as third on the backstretch, but faded through the final quarter-mile to finish 5 1/2 lengths behind Trinniberg.

“We were disappointed,” Baffert said. “I thought he could run 1-2-3. He didn’t get away from there too quick.”

In Thursday’s race, Fast Bullet is part of a field of nine and one of four runners who made their last starts in stakes. Mensa Heat was third in the On Trust Handicap here Nov. 17. Bench Points was fourth in the California Cup Sprint in October. No Hesitation was ninth in the Westerner Handicap at Northlands Park in August.

Fast Bullet will be near the front along with Cyclometer, a winner of 3 of 8 starts for trainer Bruce Headley. Cyclometer was second in a six-furlong optional claimer at Santa Anita on Oct. 28.

Morning Fog is a threat as a stalker. Trained by William Morey Jr., Morning Fog has won his last three starts at Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita.

Baffert can win Thursday’s first race, for 2-year-olds over six furlongs, with Z Big Apple, who was fourth in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue Stakes on Nov. 22, his second career start. Z Big Apple was beaten two lengths by stablemate Really Mr Greely.

“He needs some racing,” Baffert said.

The field includes Mico Margarita, who was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint Preview at Santa Anita on Nov. 3 in his stakes debut. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Mico Margarita won a six-furlong maiden race at Belmont Park in his second start Sept. 15.

Scott Blasi, Asmussen’s assistant in California, said that Mico Margarita “missed a little time” when he first came out to California.

“He’s been pretty versatile,” Blasi said. “He can get ready for next year. This is a gorgeous colt.”