08/17/2004 12:00AM

'Jippy' need improve only little


DEL MAR, Calif. - Bettors at Del Mar on Thursday might get Jippy with it.

Forget trying to pronounce , who could start as a slight favorite in the featured seventh race. Leave that to a trained professional, like track announcer Trevor Denman. Instead, just call him Jippy.

Jippy will be making his second start in this country in Thursday's feature, a 1 3/8-mile grass race for first-level allowance runners or $40,000 claimers. He will be trying to atone for a narrow loss as the even-money favorite in a similar race on Aug. 1, when he was nailed in the final strides by Gent, who is back to face him again.

"I thought he ran pretty good," Humberto Ascanio, the Del Mar-based assistant to Jipapibaquigrafo's trainer, Bobby Frankel, said Tuesday morning. "He got a little tired at the end. He tried to go with the other horse, but he hung a little. I think the race will help him."

Jippy finished second in a trio of group stakes in France last year, so he arrived with decent expectations. "Bobby told me he thought he could be a nice horse," Ascanio said. "When he came to us, he was real crabby. We'll see how much he'll improve in this race."

Jippy has won just once in 11 starts, so bettors who think he lacks a desire to win might turn elsewhere.

A logical alternative is the horse who just beat him, Gent. In the Aug. 1 race, Gent overcame a moderate pace and four-wide move on the final turn to run down Jipapibaquigrafo in the final strides. Gent has won five times in 16 starts. He already has won at this allowance condition, so trainer Bill Spawr is content to run Gent back again for a $40,000 claiming price.

Risky Weather makes his first start since being claimed by trainer Mike Machowsky for $62,500 on July 26. One of the first things Machowsky did with Risky Weather was geld the 3-year-old.

"He's a horse I've watched for a while," Machowsky said. "He's always been kind of washy. I thought that might calm him down."

is the only 3-year-old in the field, but he comes off an excellent effort against older runners in the race from which he was claimed. He was racing one level above his conditions when second at this same 1 3/8-mile distance.

"We took a shot claiming him," Machowsky said. "He was one condition over his head, but it looked like he wanted to run long, and he hadn't really run a bad race recently. He looked like the kind of horse who might get better."