08/08/2003 11:00PM

Just Parkin ready for stakes assignment


DEL MAR, Calif. - Ian Jory has trained such major stakes winners as Best Pal, Marvin's Faith, Vying Victor, and Continental Red, the reigning California-bred horse of the year.

In coming months, Jory's personal all-star team could grow to include Just Parkin, who risks an unbeaten streak when he makes his stakes debut in Monday's $100,000 Real Good Deal Stakes for 3-year-olds at Del Mar.

"I think he's the best horse I've had in a long time," Jory said.

Unraced at 2, Just Parkin won twice at six furlongs during the Hollywood Park meet - a three-length maiden win on May 17 and a victory in a first-condition allowance race for California-breds on July 20.

The latter race impressed Jory most.

"He wasn't 100 percent going into that race," Jory said. "Mentally, he didn't seem quite right at the time. I had given him a bit of a freshening after the maiden race and he didn't seem alert. His performance was pretty good considering all that."

The Real Good Deal will be run at seven furlongs and is restricted to California-breds. None of the eight entrants has won a stakes.

Martinblestme finished second in the I'm Smokin Stakes for state-breds last September and was the runner-up in the California Breeders' Champion Stakes at Santa Anita last December.

Unfurl the Flag finished second in the Cavonnier Stakes last fall at Oak Tree at Santa Anita. Trained by David Bernstein, Unfurl the Flag has run once this year, finishing a fast-closing third in a six-furlong allowance race on July 23.

Leading trainer Bob Baffert starts Martinblestme and Exceeding. Martinblestme finished fourth in an optional claiming race at Hollywood Park in his last start on July 21; Exceeding won a maiden race in his fourth start here on July 24.

Corey Nakatani rode both Martinblestme and Exceeding in their last starts and is riding Martinblestme. "Nakatani had his choice," Baffert said.

Just Parkin has ample speed and will not be far from the front, but Exceeding is likely to have the early advantage. In both of his wins, Just Parkin did not take the lead until the final furlong.

Shadow of Illinois also has speed. He has not finished worse than third in four starts.

Excess Summer has started at this meet, having finished fifth in a division of the Oceanside Stakes on July 23, his first start on turf. Trainer Jeff Mullins has dismissed the race as an untrue account of his runner's ability.

"He just didn't like the turf," Mullins said. "We've put blinkers on him and he's worked lights out."