10/26/2004 11:00PM

Littlebitofzip in first stakes


ARCADIA, Calif. - At one point earlier this month, Littlebitofzip was an outside candidate for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Lone Star Park on Saturday.

That ended when he finished third in the Grade 2 Norfolk Stakes, losing by 17 lengths to Roman Ruler. He earned $24,000, but owner Cecil Peacock and trainer Dan Hendricks decided Littlebitofzip's future was on turf.

Friday, Littlebitofzip makes his stakes debut on turf in the $75,000 Pinjara Stakes over a mile at Santa Anita. The race is restricted to non-winners of a stakes at a mile or over.

"We've had enough time to regroup," Hendricks said of the 26 days between the Norfolk and Pinjara. "The Norfolk worked out monetarily wise, but not dirt-wise. He breezes good on the dirt, but when you turn his head loose, he kind of shuffles."

won a maiden race over a mile on turf at Del Mar in his fourth career start Aug. 25, leading throughout to score by four lengths at 15-1. He had finished fifth or worse in three starts before that, all in sprints.

At the time of the maiden win, Hendricks said he had been looking forward to starting Littlebitofzip on turf.

The Pinjara drew seven entrants, including , the runner-up in the California Cup Juvenile, and Dover Dere and Veiled Speed, the first two finishers of a one-mile maiden race on turf on Oct. 8. Veiled Speed is still a maiden after two starts.

Trained by Christopher Paasch, ran second in a maiden race at Saratoga on Aug. 27, losing by three-quarters of a length. Against Dover Dere, Veiled Speed rallied wide from eighth but missed by a nose as a heavy favorite.

Littlebitofzip is a front-runner, and he could have company on the front from Stormin Away, who won a $50,000 claiming race for maidens on dirt by nine lengths Oct. 7.

Generalist is a stalker, as is Lucky Bid, who won a one-mile maiden race on dirt Oct. 3.

Many of the Pinjara runners are using the race as a prep to the $100,000 Generous Stakes at Hollywood Park on Nov. 27.

For Littlebitofzip, those two races will be the focus of his fall campaign, likely to be followed by a vacation.

"This is what we looked at," Hendricks said. "Everything is on go. This is pretty much his 2-year-old year, this race and the Generous. If we run well, we'll give him a little break and come back later next year."