11/09/2001 12:00AM

Agol Lack has a prep under belt


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The last time trainers Simon Bray and Laura de Seroux made news together was late August, when the Allen Paulson Living Trust yanked nine of its runners from Bray - including Grade 1 winners Astra and Startac - and transferred them to de Seroux.

While neither trainer has won a stakes since the controversial transfer, that could change Sunday at Hollywood Park. Bray and de Seroux start 118-pound co-highweights Fighting Falcon and Agol Lack, respectively, in the $70,000 Steinlen Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Ten second-tier runners entered.

Fighting Falcon will be making his first start for Bray. Trained previously by David Hofmans and Wally Dollase, Fighting Falcon has won 4 of 18 and earned $447,705 for owner Dion Recachina. Fighting Falcon was transferred to Bray two months ago, and according to Bray the 5-year-old is ready to roll: "He has been training well. He looks absolutely fantastic."

Whereas Fighting Falcon is racing for the first time since August, Agol Lack benefits from a recent prep. He had been off a year when he returned Oct. 8 at Santa Anita and finished fourth in a minor stakes. The prep was his first start for de Seroux, and he needed the race. Said de Seroux, "He's gone from a butterball to buff. He's 100 percent fit now. He's never felt this good."

Owned by Sultan Mohammed Al Kabeer of Saudi Arabia, Agol Lack was a Group 3 winner in Europe, and in his United States debut last fall finished fourth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup before being sent to de Seroux. A four-time winner from 13 career starts who has earned $202,275, Agol Lack adds depth to de Seroux's stable.

Astra has resumed galloping after recovering from a foot abscess after a ninth-place finish in the Beverly D., her final start for Bray. Astra will campaign next season. Meanwhile, Startac will race once more this year. He got rank and finished a disappointing sixth in the Oak Tree Derby but has trained well since and is pointed for the Hollywood Derby on Nov. 25.

The Steinlen, 13 days before the $500,000 Citation, is more a consolation than a prep. No Steinlen winner has hit the board the same year in the Citation, to which Val Royal is pointing. Remaining Steinlen starters include: Kudos, back on his favorite turf course; front-runners Auction House, Penamacor, and Purely Cozzene; along with longshots Blue Air Force, Lonesome Dude, Madraar, and Winning Fever.