07/03/2008 11:00PM

Street Boss receives high praise

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Trainer Bruce Headley lives on the gold standard. The Kona Gold standard. So when Headley starts comparing his current sprint star, Street Boss, to Kona Gold, the best horse Headley ever trained, a champion who was a Breeders' Cup Sprint winner, it's not idle praise.

"He's so calm, like Kona," Headley said in the Hollywood Park paddock the other day. "He's got a classy demeanor."

Street Boss has won three straight races, and four of his last five, to emerge as the premier sprinter on the West Coast. He has been patiently nurtured through his allowance conditions. Not until his most-recent race on May 10, his ninth lifetime start, did Headley even dare put Street Boss in a stakes race.

He won that day, in the Los Angeles Handicap, and now looks for a Grade 1 victory in the $300,000 Triple Bend Handicap going seven furlongs on Saturday at Hollywood Park.

"He's improving," Headley said. "He's got seasoning. He's gotten better. He's ready. He's been working very easy."

Headley said he gave Street Boss a break after the Los Angeles in order to come into the Triple Bend fresh. He has been training swiftly across town at Santa Anita, where Street Boss has recorded best-of-the-morning drills in his last three works.

Street Boss's late-running style figures to benefit from an expected sharp, contested early pace among Elite Squadron, High Standards, and possibly Tropic Storm.

Street Boss's main rival figures to be Elite Squadron, whose biggest win came in the Churchill Downs Handicap on Kentucky Derby Day. He subsequently was third in the Aristides Handicap on May 31 at Churchill.

"He didn't break all that sharp. He had had two tough races back to back before that, so he may have bounced," said James Baker, who trains Elite Squadron. "He's doing fantastic. I won't know for sure if he likes the surface until he runs on it, but he's galloped fine over it."

Elite Squadron has raced three times on synthetic surfaces, and has finished in the money each time, but he has never raced on Cushion Track, the material at Hollywood Park.

"The faster the track, the better it is for him to run his race," Baker said.

Tropic Storm was second in the Ack Ack Handicap going 7 1/2 furlongs on June 7, and was second to Street Boss in a Santa Anita allowance race in April.

High Standards comes off a front-running victory here in the 6 1/2-furlong King Glorious Stakes.

Medzendeekron has yet to win in four starts on Hollywood Park's main track, but his late-running style may benefit from the likely race shape.

Desert Code turns back in distance after finishing second in a pair of 1 1/16-mile stakes races.