04/08/2003 11:00PM

One addition, one dropout


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Saturday's $100,000 California Derby at Bay Meadows added one likely contender but lost the most accomplished of the local 3-year-old crop as a possible entrant.

Trainer Bob Baffert plans to run Apalachian Thunder, who set a blistering pace before placing third in the $500,000 WinStar Derby at Sunland Park in New Mexico on March 30.

Winning Stripes, who ran second to Ministers Wild Cat in the Golden State Mile and fourth in the El Camino Real Derby, will make his next start in the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes at Hollywood Park on April 26, said trainer and part-owner Bill Morey Jr.

Tiz a Coup, who has won two straight races, is also bypassing the local derby for the 1 1/8-mile Snow Chief for Cal-breds.

Jim Barnes, an assistant to Baffert, said the California Derby became an attractive option for Apalachian Thunder because of the possibility of a small field.

He said Apalachian Thunder's effort in the WinStar Derby, in which he ran the first six furlongs in 1:08.49, was a good one and that he had no concern about the colt's ability to run 1 1/8 miles.

"He was going a bit quick early and was beaten only a length," Barnes said. "That's the mark of a good horse. I don't think he needs to be on the lead, but if that's the way the race sets up, so be it."

Baffert will have Bay Meadows's leading rider, Russell Baze, aboard.

Morey had always been interested in running Winning Stripes in the Snow Chief, but had said he would run in the California Derby.

"We've changed our plans," he said. "We're going to wait for the Snow Chief. It's tough not to run in the California Derby, but how many chances do you get to run in a Cal-bred race for a quarter of a million dollars? We thought about running in both, but that would be asking too much of the horse."

Jeff Bonde will enter stablemates Mr. Technique and Souvenir's Lad. Risk Reward, who won his maiden in a one-mile turf race here on April 3, will also run, said trainer Terry Knight. Cliff Sise will send up Tribe, and Craig Lewis is planning to run Excessive Barb but said he is keeping an eye on weekend forecasts. He will not run if rain is likely.

* Redmond, twice a runner-up in turf stakes last year, heads a field of six older fillies and mares in Friday's feature, a $62,500 optional claimer at one mile on the turf. Redmond has finished third in her last two turf starts.