06/29/2006 11:00PM

After surprise win, Siren Lure steps up again


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - It was with a certain amount of astonishment that trainer Art Sherman walked toward the winner's circle to greet Siren Lure after the Los Angeles Handicap at Hollywood Park on May 13.

Siren Lure had won his fifth stakes in the last year, overcoming significant trouble to score by a length.

"He impressed me," Sherman said Friday. "I thought he had no chance."

There will be a smaller margin of error when Siren Lure starts in Sunday's $300,000 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park. A 5-year-old gelding, Siren Lure is unproven at the race distance of seven furlongs and faces a much tougher group than he beat in the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap.

has won 10 of 18 starts and $409,909. The Triple Bend is his first start in a Grade 1 stakes. He won four minor sprint stakes on turf and dirt, and the Los Angeles Handicap was his first graded stakes win.

Through all those races, Siren Lure lagged at the back of the field and closed with a rush. Sometimes he reached the front with a furlong remaining; in other races he took the lead in the final strides.

Sherman would prefer that Siren Lure race in midpack in the first half-mile of the Triple Bend.

"I'll probably be about fifth or sixth," he said. "I'd like to have at least half the field beaten coming for home. I know he likes that track, and that's a big factor."

Siren Lure must run down the speedy Trickey Trevor, the winner of the Churchill Downs Handicap in May, and Battle Won, the winner of the 2005 Churchill Downs Handicap. He has to hold off a late rally from Publication, who finished third in the 2004 Churchill Downs Handicap.

The field of 10 in the Triple Bend includes , second in the Los Angeles Handicap; defending champion Unfurl the Flag; and Vortex, a shipper from England who was fifth in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 20.

is making his first start for trainer Mike Mitchell, who says the 6-year-old gelding is ready for a race.

"He's trying to kill everybody around here," Mitchell said Friday in his stable office. "I wish the race would have been a week ago."

Mitchell is hoping that Battle Won can race near probable pacesetters Seattle Buddy and Trickey Trevor.

"It looks like there is some speed on the outside," Mitchell said. "I don't want to get right up in that."

The Triple Bend is Publication's first start in a stakes since the 2004 Churchill Downs Handicap. Owned by Mercedes Stable, Publication, 7, was off for two years with injury before returning to win a seven-furlong allowance here on May 20.

"He'll be last by about 15 lengths and start to improve his position enough to run at the end," trainer Vladimir Cerin said. "I expect him to run well."

The field

Triple Bend Handicap
Purse: $300,000; 7 furlongs; Grade 1

1AreyoutalkintomeD. Cohen1168-1
2Thunder TouchM. Pedroza11220-1
3PublicationD. Flores1184-1
4Trickey TrevorR. Baze1197-2
5Battle WonV. Espinoza1156-1
6Siren LureA. Solis1213-1
7Unfurl the FlagJ. Court1166-1
8ProrunnerG. Gomez11315-1
9VortexT. Baze11515-1
10Seattle BuddyJ. Ochoa11330-1

* Track odds