11/24/2011 3:08PM

Hollywood: Quiet Invader leads Baffert trio in Underwood

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Barbara D. Livingston
Quiet Invader won an allowance in his comeback from a long layoff.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – If three’s a crowd, then it’s awfully crowded with Bob Baffert trainees in the Grade 3, $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes for sprinters at Hollywood Park on Saturday.

Baffert entered three horses in the six-furlong race on Cushion Track, and said on Thursday that all three will run, giving him one-third of the nine-horse field.

“There’s nothing else for them,” Baffert said.

Of his trio, Euroears and Irrefutable are the most accomplished, but it is Quiet Invader who may represent the best of Baffert’s chances. He returned from a lengthy layoff with a fast allowance win last month at Santa Anita, while his stablemates are coming back just three weeks after poor tries in the Breeders’ Cup.

“I wanted to run Quiet Invader in a three-other-than, but those don’t fill,” Baffert said. “He’s doing well. And Bernie,” Baffert said, referring to co-owner Bernie Schiappa, “wants to take a shot.”

Quiet Invader set swift fractions and never looked back in beating a second-level allowance field in his comeback. The trouble is, he could wind up in a pace duel with Euroears, if Euroears returns to his best form.

Euroears, however, has not beaten a horse in his last two starts. He got off poorly and finished last in the Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park in October, then stopped badly after setting the pace in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

“He’s been doing well since he came back from the Breeders’ Cup,” Baffert said. “His last two were disastrous. I don’t know what to think.”

Irrefutable finished last in the BC Dirt Mile. His previous race, at six furlongs, resulted in a second-place finish in the Ancient Title to Amazombie, who subsequently won the BC Sprint.

The Underwood will be the comeback race for Comma to the Top, who won the CashCall Futurity here last fall. He has not raced since finishing last in the Kentucky Derby, but he has a steady series of workouts for his return, including a three-furlong blowout from the gate in 35.60 seconds on Wednesday morning.

“I’d love to win, but the main objective is the Malibu at this point,” said Peter Miller, who trains Comma to the Top, referring to the Grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita on Dec. 26. “I want to get a good race out of him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he won, because he’s got talent. He blew out real sharp.”

Carbonite won both his starts here during the summer meet. M One Rifle was third in the California Cup Sprint last time out. Shediak should appreciate a return to a sprint. Canonize has not raced in a year, but runs well fresh. Pacific Ocean has made all five of his prior starts on Polytrack.

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