05/31/2007 12:00AM

More consistency needed from Buzzards Bay


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - With more than $1 million in earnings and three graded stakes wins, Buzzards Bay approaches a summer campaign on the verge of joining the nation's top handicap horses.

At least, that's what owner Gary Broad and trainer Ron Ellis are hoping.

Saturday in the $250,000 Californian Stakes at Hollywood Park, Buzzards Bay will attempt to win his first stakes of 2007, a race that serves as a key prep to the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on June 30.

To merit national attention in a group that includes the reigning Horse of the Year, Invasor, Buzzards Bay may need to sweep the two races.

"I don't blame people for being a little skeptical," Ellis said. "His form needs to be more consistent."

Buzzards Bay has won consecutive stakes once in his career, winning the Grade 3 All American Handicap at Golden Gate Fields in February 2006 and the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap at Oaklawn Park nearly two months later.

"When he won at Oaklawn last year, he showed he's a top-class horse," Ellis said. "That's been my main goal, to get his form consistent and show he's a top horse."

Ellis has been enthused about Buzzards Bay's condition since the horse returned from a winter-long layoff caused by an ankle injury. Buzzards Bay, 5, has been based at Hollywood Park in recent months, and Ellis thinks the horse has thrived on the track's synthetic surface.

"He's stronger and sounder," Ellis said. "I was always battling little things last year. He's pretty much moved right along this year."

A winner of 5 of 17 starts and $1,175,507, Buzzards Bay has had three trainers. He began his career with Rodolfo Garcia at Calder in 2004, where he had 1 victory in 3 starts.

In late 2004, Buzzards Bay was bought privately and transferred to Jeff Mullins. In seven starts for Mullins, Buzzards Bay won the Golden Gate Derby, the Santa Anita Derby (in a 30-1 upset), and finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby.

In the summer of 2005, Buzzards Bay was purchased by Gary and Wendy Broad for $725,000 from a dispersal of Fog City Stable's holdings. Buzzards Bay has earned $549,311 since being acquired by the Broads and turned over to Ellis.

His earnings could surpass his purchase price this month. The Californian is worth $150,000 to the winner, not to mention national recognition.

"I'm expecting one of his top efforts," Ellis said. "That should be enough to win."