05/28/2002 12:00AM

No standouts in turf stakes


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - One lucky California-bred will be a stakes winner at the end of Thursday's program at Hollywood Park.

The $100,000 California Sires Stakes has drawn a modest field of five colts and geldings whose sires were nominated to the program. Highly Suspect and Gobi Dan, who were third and fourth, respectively, in the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes on April 28, lead the field.

One starter, Antique, is making his career debut in the turf race over 1 1/16 miles. Another, Sterling Wisdom, was claimed for $25,000 following a six-length win against maidens on May 10. Kith, who finished fifth in the Big Jag Allowance Stakes on April 28, completes the field.

The lack of quality does not bother trainer Paddy Gallagher, who starts Gobi Dan.

A $4,000 purchase as a 2-year-old in-training, Gobi Dan has won $154,770.

Twice in his 10-race career, Gobi Dan has been placed in stakes against statebreds, finishing second in the California Sires Stakes for 2-year-old males last fall at Oak Tree and third in the males division of the California Breeders' Champion Stakes at Santa Anita in December.

Gobi Dan won an allowance race for statebreds over 1 1/16 miles on March 28, outfinishing Calkins Road, who returned to win the Snow Chief Stakes.

"When he runs against his own kind, he tries," Gallagher said. "He's probably gotten a little better. This is his chance to make some money."

Aside from the lack of top-class form, the field is not well experienced on turf.

Kith won a maiden race on turf at 34-1 last October, but is winless in eight subsequent starts. Kith drew the rail and is likely to lead.

Gobi Dan was fifth in an allowance race/optional claimer on turf last fall at Santa Anita. Gallagher has had Gobi Dan on turf for two workouts in recent weeks to prepare for Thursday.

"He's a hard-trying horse and he breezed on the turf really well," Gallagher said. "I hope he takes to the grass."

Highly Suspect, the probable favorite, has never started on turf. Trained by Carla Gaines, he won a maiden race for California-breds over 1 1/16 miles on March 6 in his fifth start. By far, the best race of his career was the Snow Chief Stakes when he finished three lengths behind Calkins Road. A repeat of that race may be good enough to win.

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