11/21/2008 12:00AM

Out for a Prevue home run

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - As long as there is going to be major-league racing this time of year, competing head to head with the meat of the NFL and college football product, it might as well be interesting.

Instead, a Sunday afternoon at the track - this Sunday, for instance - is starting to look like just another Thursday. With racetracks hoarding stakes events for the Thanksgiving weekend, poor little November Twenty-Third has been orphaned.

Aqueduct has managed to card a $65,000 overnight stakes for New York-breds. Hoosier has the $100,000 Indiana Stallion Stakes, and Woodbine at least saw fit to present an open field of fillies and mares in the Bessarabian Stakes. But turn to some of America's active tracks in significant metropolitan markets and you will find no stakes action at Philadelphia Park, zip at Golden Gate Fields, and nothing but claimers, maidens, and a few allowance events at the three franchises owned by Churchill Downs Inc. - Fair Grounds, Calder, and Churchill itself.

Whether or not this is a total capitulation to the power of the NFL, or connected to the current struggle over telephone and Internet account wagering, or blamed on a mix-up at the print shop . . . doesn't matter. The trend is disturbing and self-defeating. Sunday is still one of the few days that there are people available in decent numbers to lure to the racetrack. It is a day to present whatever class acts are available.

Hollywood Park weighs in on Sunday with the $100,000 Prevue Stakes for 2-year-olds, listed as a Grade 3 event on that graded stakes dartboard, and presented at seven furlongs on the main track. Give it some credit, too. The Prevue has been part of the late-season scene since 1981, when Hollywood added its autumn racing dates, and has served as both a feeder race for the Hollywood Futurity and a pretty good indicator all on its own.

Runner-up Gato Del Sol came out of the first Prevue to win the Kentucky Derby. Champagne Stakes winner Copelan ventured west to win it in 1982. Other winners include King Glorious, Olympio, Stuka, Afternoon Deelites, Cobra King, Commitisize, Grey Memo, and Lion Heart, who all went on to win significant stakes as they aged.

The last four runnings of the Prevue have been a tease. The winners could have been anything. Declan's Moon (2004) came right back to win the Hollywood Futurity and an Eclipse Award, but his career sank after he was injured in his first race at 3. Your Tent or Mine (2005) and Belgravia (2006) were also compromised physically after classy Prevue performances. Last year, Massive Drama was too fast for a deep field that included Into Mischief and Bob Black Jack. Alas, he has not won since.

On Sunday, the Prevue field is highlighted by the likes of Hollywood Juvenile winner Azul Leon, Canadian invader Congor Bay, and smart Belmont maiden winner Ventana. Still, it is the unbeaten Backbackbackgone, by Put It Back, who deserves top billing.

Three different announcers with three very different styles have had their way with Backbackbackgone - named in homage of a catchphrase used by ESPN's Chris Berman - and it will be Vic Stauffer at the plate again Sunday, undoubtedly channeling the spirit of Berman's rat-a-tat delivery. The chestnut colt won by 10 in his debut at Bay Meadows, took the Willard Proctor Memorial by four at Hollywood, then came back after a summer break to win the Jack Goodman by a nose during the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita.

"He just had some minor baby stuff," said Peter Miller, who trains Backbackbackgone in the relative serenity of San Luis Rey Downs training center, some two hours south of Hollywood Park. "We didn't need to pinfire him or anything. Just some time. He stayed right here with me."

Backbackbackgone was a $65,000 2-year-old purchase at Ocala last March by a partnership that includes the Gerson family, Walter and George Abt, and John Rogitz. Through the heads-up efforts of Sean Gerson, Backbackbackgone made the Plays of the Day on ESPN's SportsCenter after winning the Proctor. Thankfully, though, even the owners relent and call their colt "BBBG."

"I shorten it to Backbackgone," Miller said. "Saves time."

Miller describes his colt as "good-sized, more towards tall and lanky," with a body type that does not necessarily conform to the expectations of his pedigree. So far, Put It Back's best runner is the accomplished sprinter In Summation.

"He's very quick, but he's real tractable," Miller noted. "I wish he would switch leads, though. He's stayed on that left lead the last two times we've run him. Sometimes he switches in the morning and sometimes he doesn't. So that a little bit of a concern.

"But I was thrilled with his last race," Miller said. "Really impressed with his tenacity and heart. He could have packed it in at the eighth pole or the sixteenth pole. But he didn't, and he galloped out in front."

This is the time of year that the second wave of 2-year-olds begins to emerge. As has been proven so many times, the Breeders' Cup does not necessarily hold the answers to the spring classics.

"I know the pedigree doesn't necessarily say route, but I think he'll get two turns," Miller added. "Anyway, we've tried to treat him like a colt with a 3-year-old career ahead of him."