10/01/2003 11:00PM

Norfolk pivotal race for Baffert

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ARCADIA, Calif. - This has not been a typical fall for trainer Bob Baffert's 2-year-old male division. Typically by early October, the stable has a stakes winner that has developed into a widely respected candidate for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

This year, Baffert has a stable of maiden winners.

Sunday at Santa Anita, Baffert starts three well-bred colts in the $250,000 Norfolk Stakes, all of whom won maiden races at Del Mar - Coldntight, Consecrate, and Odds On.

The likely favorite in the Norfolk is Siphonizer, the winner of the Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 10. The field also includes Perfect Moon and Capitano, the first two finishers of the Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 17.

A victory in the Grade 2 Norfolk would give Baffert a contender in the Juvenile at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

Baffert won the 2002 Juvenile at Arlington Park with Vindication, who never started again. The trainer said he is taking a different approach with his current group, hoping they last until the spring.

"I don't want to rush them early," he said. "I don't know which one's best."

Consecrate and Odds On are owned by Jim McIngvale and will be coupled in the Norfolk, which is run over 1 1/16 miles and is expected to draw nine runners.

Coldntight, who races for Jim Pegram, won a one-mile maiden race by seven lengths in his third career start on Sept. 5. By Touch Gold, Coldntight led throughout that day and drew off stylishly. Earlier at that meeting, Coldntight placed in two sprints.

Baffert said Coldntight reminds him of Composure, the filly he trained in 2002 and earlier this year who won three stakes and was best at a mile or farther.

"When I ran her two turns, she blossomed," Baffert said. "Coldntight wants distance. We couldn't break his maiden short."

Consecrate and Odds On are by Silver Charm, who gave Baffert his first Kentucky Derby win in 1997.

Consecrate has never run beyond six furlongs and won his maiden over 5 1/2 furlongs on Aug. 30. Baffert considered Saturday's Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland for Consecrate but opted not to ship a colt who has shown a quick temper.

"He's turned the corner. He's sort of got a mind of his own," Baffert said. "I was going to send him to Keeneland, but I don't want to ship."

Odds On has had a similar career, having finished second to Minister Eric in a maiden race on Aug. 24 and winning a six-furlong race by six lengths on Sept. 6. The form of the first race was flattered when Minister Eric returned to finish second in the Del Mar Futurity.

Although Odds On starts on Sunday, Baffert does not consider him to be his best chance.

"I don't think we'll see the best from him until later," he said.

Medecis liable to improve in Mile

Medecis has been a disappointment since he joined trainer Richard Mandella following a ninth-place finish in the 2002 Breeders' Cup Mile at Arlington Park.

Three losses have dimmed his reputation, and Mandella is taking the blame.

"I think I've done a lousy job of training him this year," Mandella said. "I haven't trained him well. We haven't jibed."

So far with Mandella, Medecis has been seventh in the Sir Beaufort Stakes last December, fourth in the Shoemaker Mile in May, and seventh on the main track against sprinters in the Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap in his lone start on dirt.

Medecis, 4, returns in Sunday's $300,000 Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita, an important prep for the BC Mile.

"I think I'm finding the errors of my ways," Mandella said. "He's a better horse than his races."

While Mandella did not reveal his training tactics, he expects a better race in the Oak Tree Mile from Medecis - and will need it.

Medecis faces an outstanding field that includes the stakes winners Sarafan, Special Ring, and Designed for Luck, as well as Apache Wings and Green Line.

Sunday's program also includes the $200,000 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap over six furlongs, a prep for the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Race for Glory impressive in Cavonnier

Race for Glory will be considered for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, following his first stakes win in Wednesday's $80,850 Cavonnier Stakes for statebreds.

Owners Bob and Beverly Lewis have the California Cup Juvenile on Nov. 8 as an option, but said the decision will be left to trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Race for Glory made his third career start in the Cavonnier, and ran an ideal race. Ridden by Mike Smith, Race for Glory ($6) stalked Winter Squall for a half-mile, took the lead in early stretch and pulled clear to win by seven lengths. Race for Glory finished seven furlongs in 1:22.45. P Town John closed from fifth to finish second in the field of seven.

The Lewises paid $600,000 for Race for Glory at the Keeneland select sale of 2-year-olds in training in April. Bob Lewis said several trainers and advisors recommended the colt.

"We paid a pretty good penny for him," Bob Lewis said. "He's a handsome horse. I had everyone that we're associated with in the industry all over the horse."

A maiden winner at Arlington Park in July, Race for Glory was fourth behind the undefeated Cactus Ridge in the Ellis Park Juvenile on Aug. 17.

"I think he's a serious horse," said Greg Falk, Lukas's assistant at Santa Anita. "We don't want to rule anything out.

"I like this colt a lot. He's very professional and very classy. He handles it all in stride. In the paddock, he never turned a hair."

Cal Cup next for House of Fortune

House of Fortune, who won Wednesday's $80,550 Cover Gal Stakes for fillies, will be kept within the statebred division, trainer Ron McAnally said.

Ridden by Alex Solis, House of Fortune led or disputed the lead throughout. She was headed by Nicole and Ben in early stretch, but fought back to pull clear and win by 2 1/2 lengths over Nicole and Ben. The final time was 1:23.52.

Solis confidently rode House of Fortune despite the pressure. "I thought if I waited a little longer, I'd have more horse," Solis said. "I didn't want to move when the other filly moved."

House of Fortune gave the freshman stallion Free House his first stakes winner. Owned by Arnold Zetcher, House of Fortune will be pointed for the $125,000 California Cup Juvenile Fillies over 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 8.

* Dimitrova, the winner of the Flower Bowl Handicap last weekend and the American Oaks at Hollywood Park in July, has arrived at Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Trained by Dermot Weld, Dimitrova has been based in Ireland this year but has raced three times in the United States this season, including a second in the Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap.