08/15/2002 11:00PM

Speedster out for six in row


DEL MAR, Calif. - Disturbingthepeace was the last horse added to a five-horse package owner David Milch and trainer Darrell Vienna purchased from California breeding farm Old English Rancho in the spring of 2001.

One year later, Disturbingthepeace, a 4-year-old gelding, has emerged as the premier sprinter in California and a viable candidate for the Breeders' Cup Sprint. On Sunday at Del Mar, he will put his five-race win streak on the line when he starts favored in the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien Handicap at seven furlongs.

A field of six entered the $150,000 Pat O'Brien, which should unfold perfectly for the Disturbingthepeace. His only pace adversary is Hot Market, who is likely to scratch and run next Sunday at Emerald Downs in the $250,000 Longacres Mile. Hot Market's defection would leave four closers - I Love Silver, Mellow Fellow, Komax, and Blue Air Force - chasing the lone speed.

"If he keeps doing what he's been doing the last five starts, we won't have any problem," trainer Darrell Vienna said. He is right. Disturbingthepeace won a first-condition allowance in March and has not lost since. His five-race streak includes two Grade 2's and has led to his chance for the Breeders' Cup Sprint. "At this point, it's very likely," said Vienna. But, he conceded, the two months leading up to the Breeders' Cup "are the longest in the world."

As for the $90,000 supplement Disturbingthepeace's owner would have to pay, no problem. Milch has told Vienna he intends to make him eligible. The gelding, sired by Bold Badgett, has earned $430,780 from 14 starts, the last 13 for Milch and Vienna.

Disturbingthepeace was not integral to the purchase of the 3-year-old filly Above Perfection in spring 2001. Old English Rancho owner Bud Johnston hoped to sell Above Perfection in a five-horse package, but only four were agreed on. Disturbingthepeace finished fifth at 22-1 his only start, but Vienna liked his looks. Eventually, he was added to the deal for an additional $50,000 and changed barns.

While Above Perfection became a graded stakes winner, Disturbingthepeace toiled in the California-bred allowance ranks until putting it together this spring. Victor Espinoza has ridden Disturbingthepeace his last two starts. Vienna said the match is perfect.

Espinoza, Vienna said, "stays active on a horse, he's not afraid to wake them up. And he's a funny horse. He seems like he's done running, when he's really ready to start."

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