01/30/2002 1:00AM

Patent has redemption possibility

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NEW ORLEANS - It was nearly two years ago that Gary and Mary West had a pretty fair reason to believe they might have a contender for the 2000 Kentucky Derby. Their Wild Again colt named Patent won a maiden race at Gulfstream Park in highly impressive style, and soon would face a more revealing test about his quality.

Unfortunately, Patent was drubbed in a subsequent allowance race at Gulfstream, quickly quashing all Derby hopes for the Wests, the Omaha, Neb., couple who last year watched their Dollar Bill compete in all three Triple Crown events. Patent since has free-fallen into obscurity, failing to win in a sparse campaign consisting of just two more starts, both losses.

Dallas Stewart now trains Patent at Fair Grounds for the Wests, having assumed the training of the 5-year-old horse "about 60 or 90 days ago," he said. "He was coming off another layoff when I got him," said Stewart, "and he ran just okay the only time I've run him," finishing fifth in an entry-level allowance race here Dec. 28.

On Friday, Patent could finally earn a long-overdue return trip to the winner's circle when he faces eight other older horses in the featured ninth race, a $32,000 allowance at a mile and 40 yards.

"I think he could really improve," said Stewart. "I'm not going to say he's a superstar, but he has been training well since that last race. He had a really good work here," Stewart said of a Jan. 24 breeze, "and acts like he's better since he ran the one race."

Probably the top challenger for Patent will be Daring Bid, who was beaten just a nose by the victorious Stable Secret in the same Dec. 28 race. Daring Bid, a 4-year-old half-brother to 1993 Preakness winner Prairie Bayou, owns just one win but six runner-up finishes from 14 career starts.

Another Friday starter who exits the Dec. 23 race is Bubba's Colors, who finished third by a length that day. He is another very well bred 4-year-old, being by A.P. Indy out of the graded winner Two Altazano, but his career record (1 for 12) does not match his bloodlines.

The rest of the field is Wild Jet, McCreary, Dynabow, Cottage, Dominus and Hey Hey Vinny.

Dynabow seeks a third straight upset. He lost his first 13 starts before being turned over to Gorden King, for whom he has won his last two starts at 8-1 and 52-1.

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