10/14/2002 11:00PM

Paxtecum well suited for downhill course


ARCADIA, Calif. - Paxtecum ran a winning race when he finished a close third at 29-1 in the El Cajon Stakes at Del Mar on Sept. 6. Three weeks later, he was a disappointing fourth as the favorite in the Pomona Derby at Fairplex Park.

"Looking back I would have liked to have skipped the Pomona race," said trainer Mike Machowsky.

While the recent loss remains fresh on Machowsky's mind, he is looking toward Thursday's seventh race at Santa Anita as a chance for Paxtecum to rebound. The 3-year-old Paxtecum starts in a $60,000 allowance race over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course.

Last November, Paxtecum was a convincing winner on the hillside turf course, a victory preceded by a maiden win on turf in his career debut.

Paxtecum has since lost four stakes, although he was beaten only a neck in the one-mile El Cajon.

In the Pomona Derby over about 1 1/8 miles, Paxtecum raced in mid-pack but never looked a winner, losing by 5 3/4 lengths to Asong for Billy.

"They went slow up front and it might have been farther than he wanted to go," Machowsky said. "I think he's better running down the hill."

A stalker, Paxtecum should have a pace to follow. Slew of the Night, a stakes winner at Emerald Downs on Sept. 24, and Thunder Bullet, an allowance race winner at Fairplex Park, have shown speed.

Paxtecum is likely to be behind those runners, but near his top opponent, True Phenomenon. Trained by Bobby Frankel, True Phenomenon was a stakes winner in France earlier this year, won a division of the Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar on July 24, but was eighth in the Del Mar Derby behind stablemate Inesperado on Sept. 7.

Splendid Times, the runner-up in the Pomona Derby and a two-time winner on turf this year, is another contender. He won an allowance race over 5 1/2 furlongs on turf during the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting.

For the time being, Machowsky feels that sprints and races up to a mile will best suit Paxtecum.

"I'm glad we're back at Hollywood and Santa Anita with sprints on turf," he said.

The one-mile Bien Bien Stakes on turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 6 and the Malibu Stakes over seven furlongs on dirt on Dec. 26 at Santa Anita are possible late-season goals. First, Paxtecum must break a four-race losing streak on Thursday over a turf course he is known to like.

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