02/15/2005 12:00AM

No excuse for Lucky J.H.


ARCADIA, Calif. - Lucky J.H. has had very little luck in his five-race career, which is why he is still eligible for the best race Thursday at Santa Anita.

Nine colts and geldings entered the seventh race, a one-other-than allowance/optional $80,000 claimer for 3-year-old California-breds in which Lucky J.H. is the deserving favorite and most likely winner. It is a familiar role for this son of Cee's Tizzy, whose maiden romp in his second start last summer hinted at more to come.

Trainer Carla Gaines and owner John Harris ("J.H.") thought so, until a series of unfortunate events conspired against the colt. First, he caught a virus and missed a workout leading into the California Cup Juvenile on Oct. 16. Favored at even-money, he beat one horse.

In his next start Nov. 13, won a Cal-bred allowance sprint, but was disqualified for interference. Finally, in the seven-furlong California Breeders Champion Stakes Dec. 26, Lucky J.H. had a tough trip from the inside post and finished third, beaten less than three lengths. On Thursday, there are no excuses.

"We're kind of going back to square one with him," said Gaines, who points to the colt's pedigree - by Cee's Tizzy, out of an A.P. Indy mare - as reason to believe he will handle two turns. "He should, with his pedigree. He's got a lot of natural speed, but he should be able to carry it two turns."

Lucky J.H. drew post 8,which is hardly the best post for a mile race. However, Lucky J.H. enters with the field's top figures and sharp current condition.

"We thought about the San Mateo Mile last Saturday at Bay Meadows], but decided to wait and start him back out in the same condition."

Though he risks being caught wide under Victor Espinoza, Lucky J.H. appears to have enough raw ability to overcome the post. But what if the track comes up muddy?

"He seems like he'd be okay in it," Gaines said, and she would know. She trained the colt's dam, Lucky C.H., who lost by just a neck in her only start on a wet track.

The remainder of the field includes Tommy's Topper, the only two-time winner in the field. Fourth in a turf stakes last out, he is eligible for the race because he is in for an $80,000 claiming price. Panama Lane topped a modest field of maidens in the slop Jan. 7, and fits right back. Also in the field are Top This and That, Generalist, Ninety Five, Olympic Miler, Emperoroftheraces, and Juliesugardaddy.