10/09/2001 11:00PM

A mixed bad of grass-race novices


ARCADIA, Calif. - Friday's $50,000 Pinjara Stakes has drawn two stakes winners from late summer, a trio of colts trained by Bob Baffert, and a shipper from northern California who was unlucky in his last start.

The one-mile Pinjara is the season's first turf stakes for 2-year-olds in Southern California. It is restricted to nonwinners of a first-place purse of $30,000 other than closed or claiming races at a mile or over. Some runners may appear in the Generous Stakes at Hollywood Park next month.

Only two of the nine entrants are winners at a mile or farther - Rainman's Request, who won the minor Gateway to Glory Stakes at 30-1 at Fairplex Park on Sept. 20; and Hawk's Top Gun, a maiden winner for Baffert at Del Mar on Aug. 31. Baffert has two other starters - Mountain Rage, a maiden winner at Fairplex Park, and Bishop's Wood, a winner at tiny Folkestone, England, in June.

Baffert rated Hawk's Top Gun as his best chance. Hawk's Top Gun won his maiden in his third start over a mile, following off-the-board finishes in two sprints early at the Del Mar meeting.

"I should have run him in the Norfolk," Baffert said, referring to the late September prep for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. "But he's a big horse and I don't want to do too much with him right now. He could be any kind."

Rainman's Request was a four-length winner against five opponents in the Gateway to Glory. Trained by Doug O'Neill, Rainman's Request is making his turf debut as is Sharper Too, who won the I'm Smokin Stakes and California Sires Stakes in September.

Sharper Too will be well backed, as will Yougottawanna, who is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer. Yougottawanna was second as a heavy favorite in the I'm Smokin Stakes at Del Mar, rallying late to miss by a half-length.

Three starters have turf experience. Holdthehelm won a maiden race over 5 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park in July, but has lost his last two starts. Villa Amalfi was fourth in a maiden race at Del Mar and last of six in the Norfolk.

He drew the outside post, a tough place to start since the temporary inside rail will be 30 feet from the true rail.

Bishop's Wood won a maiden race over 6 3/4 furlongs in England on June 29, his final start in that country. Although the class of that race is questionable considering the venue, Bishop's Wood will be ridden by Victor Espinoza.

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