04/21/2004 11:00PM

O'Neill says his colt is good to go


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Conventional reason suggests world traveler Excessivepleasure is vulnerable Saturday, when he wheels back just one month after racing in Dubai. Trainer Doug O'Neill says, however, that skeptics should not write him off so quickly.

"His coat looks good, his weight looks good, and he breezed fantastic," O'Neill said. "He came back so good, almost like he'd run at Santa Anita, not Dubai."

Excessivepleasure, one of two millionaires on the Gold Rush card (Continental Red is the other), can win the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes if O'Neill's post-Dubai assessment is accurate.

But handicappers and horse trainers often see things differently. That is the case Saturday, when Excessivepleasure races 7 1/2 furlongs in the Tiznow, race 6 on the Gold Rush card at Hollywood Park. Nine older horses entered the race, a one-turn sprint in which Beau Soleil, trained by Jeff Mullins, is the horse to beat in his first stakes attempt.

The field also includes Green Team, who has earned more than $300,000 since trainer Jeff Bonde claimed him for $32,000 last summer; 8-year-old veteran Spinelessjellyfish; allowance-class gelding Early Snow; presser Hemet Thought; and closer Ride and Shine. The longshots are Intuit and Wolfwithintegrity.

O'Neill and owner Ty Leatherman recognize the challenge facing Excessivepleasure, a 4-year-old.

"We weren't even going to consider this race, but he came back so good [from Dubai]," O'Neill said.

In the March 27 Godolphin Mile, Excessivepleasure got left, rushed up toward the leaders, took up, and still managed to finish third. It was a huge effort and signaled a return to form for Excessivepleasure, who last year won the Indiana, Iowa, and Sunland Park derbies.

Excessivepleasure, to be ridden by Jon Court, came back from Dubai better than a stablemate.

"Fleetstreet Dancer looks like someone hit him over the head with a hammer. He's at the farm as we speak," O'Neill said.

To win Saturday, Excessivepleasure must repeat his Dubai try against a razor-sharp Beau Soleil, who has been aimed specifically to the Tiznow. Beau Soleil had won one race when owners Robert Bone and Earle Mack purchased him for $150,000 last fall and turned him over to trainer Jeff Mullins. In six starts since, Beau Soleil has greatly improved and has won 3 of his last 5, including an eight-length allowance win in his most recent start April 3.

"We had the Tiznow in mind before we ran him last time," Mullins said. "I just threw him in for a tightener, then freshened him. Hopefully he'll fire again."

If he does, the Tiznow is history. In the allowance prep, Beau Soleil earned a 102 Beyer Figure, winning by eight lengths. His up-front running style should play well in a field that came up short of serious speed. Victor Espinoza rides Beau Soleil.

Early Snow is the other O'Neill starter, and is the only other legitimate presser.

"We're going to have him on or near the lead," O'Neill said.