07/31/2006 12:00AM

One Off iffy for Escondido


DEL MAR, Calif. - Burt Bacharach years ago wrote about the way to San Jose, but his horse One Off, co-owned by his wife, Jane, has made a circuitous route to Del Mar.

left California for Florida, where he was scheduled to run in a stakes race 1 1/2 weeks ago at Calder. But the race was rained off the turf, and One Off was scratched. Last Friday, One Off arrived back at Del Mar, where on Wednesday he is scheduled to race for the first time at this track, in the $85,000 Escondido Handicap.

Only five were entered in the Escondido, a restricted stakes race at 1 3/8 miles on turf. One Off figures to vie for favoritism with Leprechaun Kid, a course specialist who recently returned from an 8 1/2-month layoff.

One Off was fifth most recently in the Jim Murray Memorial Handicap at 1 1/2 miles at Hollywood Park. Prior to that, he was second to T.H. Approval in the 1 3/4-mile San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita. The two-mile Bob Umphrey Memorial at Calder was appealing to Drysdale, but the weather there did not cooperate.

Nor, since One Off returned, has the weather here.

"I wanted to work him on Saturday, but they canceled turf works because of the mist, so he hasn't worked," Drysdale said at his Del Mar barn on Monday morning. "I have to decide whether to run or not."

is the horse to beat, and he would become all the more formidable if One Off does not go. Leprechaun Kid has won three times in nine starts over this course, has finished in the money in six grass races here, and last year captured the Del Mar Handicap at the Escondido distance of 11 furlongs.

Leprechaun Kid was fourth in the Sunset Breeders' Cup Handicap on July 16, his first race since finishing 10th of 13 in the Breeders' Cup Turf on Oct. 29 at Belmont Park.

"He came out of that race wiped out," Mike Mitchell, who trains Leprechaun Kid, said of the Breeders' Cup.

Mitchell was happy with Leprechaun Kid's comeback.

"It was a very good race, considering he was running a mile and a half first time back, and I didn't think I had him tight enough for a mile and a half," Mitchell said.

The others in the Escondido are , who was sixth in the Sunset; On the Acorn, who was fourth in a minor stakes at Churchill last time out; and the mare Aubonne, who when she last faced males was last of eight in the San Luis Obispo Handicap in February.