07/28/2001 12:00AM

Red Hot and Blue primed to fire


DEL MAR, Calif. - Alexis Barba does not have a large stable, but she finds herself with an embarrassment of riches in Monday's featured seventh race at Del Mar. She has the possible top two horses choices in the eight-horse field, including Red Hot and Blue, who exits a highly rated comeback effort at Hollywood Park.

Monday's feature, a first-level allowance for older fillies and mares, is at 1 1/16 miles and carries a purse of $57,000. Red Hot and Blue starts from the rail with Mike Smith, who rode Red Hot and Blue in her last start June 15.

That last race should put Red Hot and Blue on edge for a top effort Monday. In her first start in more than seven months, she rallied strongly to be second to Above Perfection, who subsequently was second in the Grade 1 Prioress at Belmont Park. Above Perfection then returned to Del Mar and captured the Fleet Treat Stakes. Red Hot and Blue finished six lengths clear of the third horse in that sprint prep, further underscoring the quality of the performance.

"I was pleased with Red Hot and Blue, because she's not a sprinter," Barba said Saturday. "She ran a mile and a quarter on turf last year in Canada, and that's not her gig, either. I'm trying to figure out what her gig is."

Perhaps it is going long on the dirt at Del Mar. Red Hot and Blue's lone victory came here last summer when she faced maidens in her first start around two turns.

Moon's Tune, Barba's other entrant Monday, finished second in a similar spot July 5 at Hollywood Park. She has finished first and second in her two starts around two turns and, with just four lifetime starts, seems to have plenty of upside. Chris McCarron rides.

"They're both coming up to it really good," Barba said. "I was kind of sad to run them against each other. When you have two like that, you want to space them out."

Trainer Bill Spawr, who is off to a blazing start at the meet, sends out Potra Skater, one of several horses the trainer recently acquired in Argentina.

Premiere Event has trained well for her comeback for trainer David Hofmans. She won her lone start around two turns last fall at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen