06/20/2005 11:00PM

Star Pupil just fine going long

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The career of Star Pupil has gone in a surprising direction since he arrived from England over the winter.

After racing primarily in sprints in 2004, Star Pupil has excelled at longer distances this year. Thursday, Star Pupil will attempt to win his second consecutive start, in a $55,000 allowance race over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Hollywood Park.

"He seems to be handling the added distance," trainer Tim Yakteen said. "There was some question, because he's out of a sprinting family."

Owned by Jerry Jamgotchian, has made four starts in California. After finishing sixth in an allowance race on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita in March, he has not been worse than third in three races at a mile or longer.

A 4-year-old gelding, Star Pupil drew the outside post in a field of six in Thursday's seventh race.

A win on Thursday could result in a stakes appearance at Del Mar for Star Pupil, perhaps in the Escondido Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf.

"We'll take it one race at a time, but that's the goal," Yakteen said.

Trainer Neil Drysdale has two leading contenders in Always First and One Off. The rest of the field is Fantastic Spain, J J Wantsthefront, and Urban King.

, who will wear blinkers, won his U.S. debut in an allowance over 1 1/4 miles on turf here on April 22, but returned to finish fourth on May 29.

was fourth behind Always First on April 22 and was second in the May 29 race, losing by three-quarters of a length to Qsar.

The form of the May 29 race was flattered last weekend when its third-place finisher, Fullbridled, finished a game second in the Dallas Turf Cup at Lone Star Park.

, third in the Stanford Breeders' Cup Handicap at Bay Meadows in March, was a neck behind Always First on April 22. Fantastic Spain was the 5-2 favorite in the minutes before the May 29 race, but was scratched during warmups because of unsoundness, according to track stewards.

Fantastic Spain has since had three workouts on the main track.

The aptly named J J Wantsthefront could have the early lead on Thursday. A 6-year-old gelding trained by Peter Pizurro, J J Wantsthefront won the Wildcat Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf at Turf Paradise on May 1.