06/11/2002 11:00PM

Top Hit had his tightener for Owens

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - When Notable Secrets won a minor claiming race at Hollywood Park on Wednesday, trainer Kory Owens felt more confident about Top Hit's chances in an allowance race on Friday night.

The victory by Notable Secrets at the $18,000-$20,000 level came in his second start of the meeting, and proved to Owens that the horse needed a start over the track to show his best.

"He lost by seven lengths last time against the same horses," Owens said of the field that Notable Secrets faced on Wednesday.

Owens is hoping that the same result applies to Top Hit when he starts in a $60,000 allowance race over 7 1/2 furlongs on Friday.

Top Hot finished fifth in his first start of the meeting on May 1, losing an allowance race/ optional claimer by seven lengths to Lethal Instrument, who returns in Saturday's $500,000 Californian Stakes.

"I think he'll run a little bit better," Owens said. "Most of the horses I brought in here weren't tight enough. He gets off the rail, and that helps."

The May 1 race was Top Hit's fourth consecutive loss, dating back to the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park last August, his third career stakes win. Earlier this year, Top Hit was third in the Coyote Handicap and fourth in the Black Mountain Handicap, both minor stakes at Turf Paradise.

A stalker, Top Hit drew post 3 in a five-horse field that includes Nick, Bay Head King, Elaborate, and High Wire Act.

Elaborate will be a deserving favorite. A 7-year-old trained by Paco Gonzalez, Elaborate finished third in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita on March 30, losing by three-quarters of a length to Kalookan Queen.

Elaborate will attempt to end a seven-race losing streak in Friday's race, where he figures to be near the pace. A repeat of his last race would be good enough to win.

Bay Head King has the credentials to win. He won an allowance race/optional claimer over a mile at Santa Anita on April 10, but was a well-beaten fourth in the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap here on May 12.

A victory by Nick or High Wire Act would be a surprise.

Nick is making his first start in this country, following a five-month layoff. In Chile, he won six of nine starts, but most of those wins came in minor handicaps.

High Wire Act has not started since finishing seventh in an allowance race last July at Del Mar.

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