11/30/2010 2:54PM

Star Presence can give Baffert 2,000th win


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has two chances to win the 2,000th race of his career at Hollywood Park on Thursday.

Baffert starts the maiden Star Presence in the first race and Queenie Marini, in the third race, an optional claimer for 2-year-old fillies.

Tuesday, he leaned toward Star Presence as his best chance.

“If I’d go to Vegas and make a bet, I’d say that Star Presence is better than Queenie Marini,” he said.

Baffert won the 1,999th race of his career with the promising 3-year-old Alcindor on Sunday and thought he would have another winner on the program with the 2-year-old first-time starter The Factor, who could finish only fourth as the 3-5 favorite.

Star Presence is overdue for a breakthrough performance. The 2-year-old filly has made four starts, has been sent off at 7-2 or less in each start, and has been second or third in her last three races.

Owned by Kaleem Shah, Star Presence was third in a maiden race over 6 1/2 furlongs on Nov. 7, finishing 1 3/4 lengths behind Teroda.

“I thought she couldn’t lose last time and she got beat,” Baffert said. “Her long races weren’t bad. She’s still young.”

Star Presence was second in two two-turn maiden races earlier this year, losing by a neck and a head. In Thursday’s race, she faces four opponents and will be heavily favored.

Queenie Marini takes a drop in class and a cut back in distance, having finished a well-beaten fourth in the California Cup Juvenile Fillies over 1 1/16 miles on Oct. 30. Owned by Arnold Zetcher, Queenie Marini won a $40,000 claiming race for maidens in her fourth start over 6 1/2 furlongs on Oct. 9.

Thursday’s race is over seven furlongs. Queenie Marini drew the outside in a field of five that includes Teddy’s Promise, who beat maidens impressively over 6 1/2 furlongs on Oct. 17 but was last of six in the Sharp Cat Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 7.

Thursday’s seventh race is an optional claimer for fillies and mares over six furlongs. Good Vibration, who won a maiden race on Nov. 7 in her first start for trainer Ben Cecil, makes her debut against winners, but must beat Hot Affair and Missdealornodeal, who were second in races at this level earlier this fall.