10/30/2003 12:00AM

Latest generation gets shot to shine


ARCADIA, Calif. - There is nothing inherently wrong with running 2-year-olds on the grass. Rumor has it that in Europe it happens all the time.

Even out here in dirt-bound California, where grass horses usually are asked to ride in the back of the bus, 2-year-olds get a chance to add a dimension to his potential with occasional opportunities on turf. The $75,000 Pinjara Stakes, at a mile on Saturday at Santa Anita Park, is one of them.

At the very least, they got the name right. The racehorse Pinjara emerged as a 2-year-old in 1967 draped in the colors of Howard B. Keck, trained by Charlie Whittingham, and brimming with European blood. He delivered, winning California grass stakes at 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Had he come along a bit later, Pinjara might have taken advantage of the great Del Mar experiment of 1971, in which racing secretary Lou Eilken tried to create a new breed of California runner by switching the Del Mar Futurity to the grass, requiring the most promising members of the 2-year-old division to run once around the tight, deep course at the oddball distance of 7 1/2 furlongs.

Ever the gentleman, Eilken did not ask the fillies to do likewise in the Del Mar Debutante. The Del Mar Futurity lasted three eventful years on turf, then reverted to the dirt.

Wedged between the Breeders' Cup and Cal Cup, the Pinjara Stakes is guaranteed not to draw any young horses with major reputations. Still, the money spends, and there are races like the $200,000 Generous Stakes at Hollywood Park on the horizon, at the same mile-on-grass conditions. They've got to start somewhere.

Summer Mayberry is going into the Pinjara with Longgonetrevorsean, no relation to Racecallertrevordenman. In fact, the colt was named by owner Ernest Powell in honor of his son, a track star.

"He looks like more of a distance horse," Mayberry said. "He's not really heavily muscled. He's a little bit longer than the sprinter-type body. And he'll gallop a mile and a half like it's nothing."

Longgonetrevorsean will be getting a chance to spread his wings after three sprint starts, the most recent a steadily-closing third in the six-furlong Sunny Slope Stakes on Oct. 18. Whether or not he will take to the grass remains to be seen, although in California the courses are so firm and clipped so close that it hardly matters.

"I'm asking a lot of him to go from running short on the dirt to running long on the turf for the first time in a stake, but there are really no other options right now," Mayberry said. "Anyway, out here, if you can handle the dirt you can probably handle the grass."

Mayberry, 32, trains a modest stable of 11 runners, but she seems due to break through with a top stakes horse any day now. Longgonetrevorsean may not be the one - he won his maiden race for a $50,000 tag - but PR departments are ready and waiting for the day they can put Mayberry's name in lights.

Articulate and attractive, Mayberry has a pedigree that spells class both top and bottom. Her father was the late Brian Mayberry, one of the nation's preeminent trainers of 2-year-olds in the 1980's and into the 1990's, while her great-grandfather, J.P. Mayberry, trained Judge Himes to win the Kentucky Derby of 1903.

Mayberry's mother, Jeanne, is an accomplished horsewoman in her own right. As Jeanne Saunderson, she broke the gender barrier in the 1960's by acquiring a trainer's license at a time when women were rarely seen on the backstretch. Even then, as a bona fide trainer, she faced restrictions.

"If you can believe it, my mom was not allowed to be on the backstretch after the sun went down," her daughter said. "Can you imagine telling a trainer they couldn't go check on their horses after dark? It's crazy."

And, thank goodness, it was a long time ago.

With daughters April and Summer at their side, Brian and Jeanne Mayberry took California 2-year-old racing by storm beginning in the mid-1980's, primarily with the young horses owned by the Mace Siegel family and Ann and Jerry Moss.

The Mayberrys won the Spinaway at Saratoga, the Sapling at Monmouth, back-to-back runnings of the Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland, and two straight versions of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship. Between 1988 and 1993 they won the Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood five times.

Sardula, the best horse Brian Mayberry ever trained, won the 1993 Starlet Stakes at Hollywood Park in the fall, then went on to take the 1994 Kentucky Oaks. Prospectors Gamble, winner of the Triple Bend and the A Phenomenon at age 5, proved Mayberry could not be typecast.

With such examples in mind, Summer Mayberry was at first attracted to Longgonetrevorsean when she encountered his pedigree in the Barretts sales catalog last spring. His sire, Crafty Friend, is by Crafty Prospector, sire of Prospectors Gamble. His sale price was $37,000.

"I learned everything from my mom and dad," Mayberry said. "Through my experience with them, I prefer training babies. You don't have to inherit other people's problems. You have a clean slate, and you can start from scratch."

The Pinjara is a good place for such a start.