11/19/2004 12:00AM

Late contender for title


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Texcess is making a late-season push for the California-bred 2-year-old male championship, a title he can clinch with a victory in the $1 million Delta Jackpot Stakes at Delta Downs in Louisiana on Dec. 4.

Since making his debut with a second in the Barretts Juvenile Stakes at Fairplex Park on Sept. 19, Texcess has won consecutive starts in the $125,000 Califor-nia Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Oct. 16 and an allowance race at Hollywood Park last Sunday.

The Delta Jackpot Stakes will be his first stakes appearance against open company. Considering the lack of standouts in the 2-year-old state-bred male division, success in the Delta Jackpot could be enough to secure the championship.

Such an accolade would be just fine for co-owners Omar Aldabbagh and trainer Paul Aguirre, but they would be just as content with the first-place purse of $600,000 at Delta Downs. Everything Texcess has accomplished this season has been a surprise to the two men.

"I think the horse will get better and better," said Aldabbagh, a nightclub owner in Las Vegas. "He exceeded our expectations."

Aguirre admits to having modest expectations going into the California Cup Juvenile, especially since Texcess was a maiden. But the raceday scratch of morning-line favorite Top Money, a stakes winner at Del Mar, made Texcess look more attractive in a weak race.

Always near the front, Texcess pulled away to win by six lengths under Rene Douglas, but Aguirre said he was convinced there was room for improvement.

"Not only did I think he wasn't 100 percent, but the jock got off and said, 'He's playing around,' " Aguirre said. "He acts like a horse that needs to get it together mentally. I was a little surprised he won, not because I didn't think he had ability, but I'd never pressed him."

Texcess gained more experience with his most recent victory, in an allowance race over 1 1/16 miles. Texcess was always near the pace, stalked Chips Are Down on the final turn, and won by a length, finishing in a respectable 1:42.71.

For Texcess's next start, the Delta Jackpot Stakes was chosen over the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity, which is expected to include Wilko, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

"He's gelded, so a graded stakes doesn't help him," Aguirre said. "It looks like there will be lesser horses there, so why not?"

Aguirre and Aldabbagh bought Texcess for $85,000 at the Barretts May sale of 2-year-olds in training.

Aguirre had followed Texcess for two years since he was foaled at a ranch in Temecula, Calif., where Aguirre boards horses.

"I tried to buy him when he was six months old in the field," he said. "I'd given up on him. I thought he'd bring too much."

Ron Gomez bred Texcess, who is by top California sire In Excess out of Danish Alamode, who is by Regal Classic. Danish Alamode, who was winless in four starts, has produced four winners, including Gimme the Willys, a winner of $312,290 who was stakes placed at Fairplex Park.

Gimme the Willys excelled at longer distances, and Aguirre and Aldabbagh say they are hoping Texcess can do the same.

"We're hoping more in the future for the horse," Aldabbagh said. "Paul let the horse develop on his own. He's doing it at his own pace. He's a big horse, he's very green, and he doesn't know what he's doing yet."