08/29/2004 11:00PM

They all fear Excessively Nice


DEL MAR, Calif. - Excessively Nice was so impressive winning a maiden race on Aug. 8 that trainer Bob Baffert considered her a candidate for the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante last Saturday.

But with other fillies in his stable pointed for that race, Baffert decided to take the less lucrative path with Excessively Nice. Wednesday, Excessively Nice makes her stakes debut in the $100,000 Generous Portion Stakes for statebred 2-year-old fillies at Del Mar.

"I think she'll get better as she gets older," Baffert said. "That's why I didn't run her in the Debutante. She wasn't ready for that."

Owned by Hal and Patti Earnhardt, Excessively Nice has started once, in maiden race over 6 1/2 furlongs. She was third for the first half-mile, moved closer to the lead in early stretch, and pulled away to win by 1 1/4 lengths.

, who will be ridden by David Flores, will be favored in the Generous Portion. She is the filly that rival trainers of leading contenders fear the most.

The top contenders are the northern California stakes winner Kelly's Princess and Coastal Strike, a five-length winner of a $100,000 claiming race for maidens on July 23. Of the other five fillies entered, two are maidens who have started and three - Hold the Game, Memorette, and Short Route - won a maiden race in their last start.

Excessively Nice is likely to stalk the pace in a race that includes several speedy fillies.

led throughout the Solano County Juvenile Filly Stakes over 5 1/2 furlongs at the Vallejo fair on July 25, winning by 7 1/2 lengths.

The Generous Portion marks the fourth consecutive stakes appearance for Kelly's Princess. She was third in the Nursery Stakes at Hollywood Park and second in the Juan Gonzalez Memorial Stakes at the Pleasanton Fair.

"She'll have to improve a lot," trainer Adam Kitchingman said. "Coastal Strike and Excessively Nice are the ones to beat. I'll be happy with second or third."

ran like a stakes horse and not a claimer in her debut. She led throughout modest fractions and finished well. Trainer Clifford Sise was worried that Coastal Strike would be claimed for $100,000 but there were no takers.

In the Generous Portion, Coastal Strike breaks from post 2, three positions inside of Excessively Nice. Sise was hoping for an outside draw to give jockey Tyler Baze more options while keeping an eye on the favorite.

"I wish that thing of Baffert's wasn't in there," Sise said.