04/21/2003 11:00PM

Prized Friend's stock soars

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Even while he stayed in the barn Sunday, Prized Friend's stock went up. The 7-year-old Prized Friend will be entered in the $150,000 Khaled Stakes - part of Saturday's $1.3 million California Gold Rush for statebreds at Hollywood Park - and based on the company Prized Friend has been keeping, the Khaled is a turf race that he has a shot to win.

"Put it this way," trainer Bill Spawr said, "look who beat him."

On March 9, making the second start of his comeback, Prized Friend finished second in a first-condition allowance. The horse who beat him? None other than Passinetti, who scored an unlikely upset Sunday in the Grade 1 San Juan Capistrano Handicap. Prized Friend subsequently won a $25,000 starter allowance, which boosted his earnings this year to $47,560. Not bad for a horse who sold for just $18,000 at the 2002 Barretts October mixed sale.

"We're already out on him, and we've got a chance this weekend," Spawr said.

Prized Friend is owned by Jon Lindo and partners.

Spawr said his 3-year-old sprinter Our Bobby V. will shorten to one turn for his next start, expected to be the Grade 2 Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes at seven furlongs on May 26.

Tough assignment for Special Ring

Trainer Julio Canani has scrapped prep-race plans for Special Ring, and instead will train the 6-year-old straight into the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile on May 26. Special Ring has not raced since Aug. 2, when he set a Del Mar turf record for one mile, winning the Wickerr Handicap in 1:32.72. The win was the eighth from 20 starts for Special Ring, and established him as one of the country's top turf milers.

The front-running Special Ring habitually lugged out in his races, however, and a nuclear scan finally revealed a blind fracture that required time to heal. Canani turned him out, and Special Ring resumed serious training this winter at Santa Anita. Tuesday morning at Santa Anita, Special Ring worked five furlongs under David Flores in 1:00.60.

"He's so relaxed now," Canani said. "I worked him six furlongs [April 17] and he went the first quarter in 26."

Asked about Special Ring returning from a nine-month layoff in a Grade 1, Canani said, "If you can't bring a horse up to a race and have him fit, you might as well quit."

Special Ring, owned by William Preston, was imported two years ago from France. After losing seven of his first eight starts in the U.S., he has won four of his last five.

Passinetti earns a vacation

San Juan upsetter Passinetti, who was making his third start in a month when he won the San Juan, has earned a rest. Trainer Ben Cecil said the 7-year-old Passinetti, who had been away from the races for more than three years before his comeback this winter, would not run again for three months.

"I'm going to freshen him up a little now, and maybe bring him back in the Sunset toward the end of Hollywood Park," Cecil said.

The Grade 2 Sunset, at 1 1/2 miles on turf, will be run July 20, closing day of the Hollywood spring-summer meet.

Cecil said champion grass mare Golden Apples "looks really good," and is pointing for a comeback this summer at Del Mar.

Men's Exclusive points for L.A. Times

Ten-year-old Men's Exclusive continues to defy age. A California-bred gelding who won for the 11th time in 44 starts on March 19, Men's Exclusive looked sharp in a half-mile workout Tuesday at Santa Anita and is pointing for the Grade 3 Los Angeles Times Handicap on May 10 at Hollywood Park.

"He's doing fantastic," trainer Wesley Ward said, minutes before Men's Exclusive posted the second-fastest of 24 half-mile workouts - 47 seconds.

Men's Exclusive has earned more than $1.4 million for owner-breeder Hartsel Reed, and is the only starter from the 1997 Breeders' Cup Sprint who is still racing. Men's Exclusive finished sixth as the 3-1 favorite in the 1997 BC Sprint. Men's Exclusive has won three graded stakes at Hollywood Park, and scored the first graded stakes win of his career in the six-furlong Los Angeles way back in 1997.

Ward said that unbeaten Bear Fan will not be ready for the $150,000 B. Thoughtful Stakes on Saturday, and instead will aim for the Grade 3 Desert Stormer Handicap on June 7.

Stute brothers honored

Trainers Mel and Warren Stute were honored Monday evening in Pasadena at an annual charity dinner to benefit the Edwin J. Gregson Foundation.

The Stute brothers, who have been racing in Southern California since the early 1940's, were recognized for their lifelong involvement in California racing,

After introductions by veterinarians Jack Robbins and Rick Arthur, Warren Stute, 81, was presented with a Stetson cowboy hat. Unlike the black ones that he frequently wears, the gift hat was cream colored. Stute drew a loud ovation when he tried it on.

Mel Stute, 75, was presented with a framed $1,000 voucher to support his well-known interest in betting.

The Gregson Foundation is administered by the California Thoroughbred Trainers Association and provides a scholarship program for children of backstretch workers. According to trainer Jenine Sahadi, who serves as chairman for the foundation, more than $100,000 was raised for the scholarship fund.

* Joey Franco, expected to be among the favorites Saturday in the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes on the Gold Rush card, worked five furlongs Tuesday at Santa Anita in 59.60. Among others, he will face General Challenge, Commander's Flag, Grey Memo, Ride and Shine, and Sombrio in the 7 1/2-furlong Tiznow.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen