05/12/2004 11:00PM

Ambitious spot for first-timer

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The unconventional method of starting maidens in stakes for 2-year-old fillies has worked in the past for trainer David Hofmans.

Cindy's Hero was a maiden when she won the 2000 Del Mar Debutante and Tricks Her was a maiden when she was placed in the Landaluce and Sorrento Stakes in 2002.

On Sunday, Bella Banissa is scheduled to make her career debut in the $75,000 Nursery Stakes over five furlongs. Owned by Pete Parrella's Legacy Ranch, Bella Banissa could have started in a $43,000 maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies over 4 1/2 furlongs on Wednesday.

Instead, she will go in the stakes.

"She acts like a nice filly," Hofmans said. "She's above average. She's done everything right and we'll take a chance."

The Nursery is the first stakes for juveniles of the year.

Bella Banissa is expected to face fellow first-time starter Fortunate Event, maiden race winners Double D Appeal, Kelly's Princess, Rents Due, and Swiss Please, as well as Maria's Posada, a maiden who has started.

Considering that many of the starters have made only one or two starts, Hofmans is confident that Bella Banissa will run well.

"Now is the time to do it," Hofmans said.

Thursday, Bella Banissa worked a half-mile in 47.20 seconds, which equaled the fastest of 22 recorded works at the distance.

Fortunate Event will be well bet. Trained by Kristin Mulhall, Fortunate Event is a half-sister to Cheiron, the winner of the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes here on April 24.

Australian native joins Team Frankel

Trainer Brian Lynch, who has a 25-horse stable, has been hired as an assistant for Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel.

Lynch said he will join Frankel's stable effective Monday. He is relocating to New York, where he said he will oversee Frankel's 2-year-old division. Lynch said he expects to take a division to Fair Grounds for Frankel later this year.

Last winter, Lynch accompanied the Frankel-trained Denon to Hong Kong. The two had discussed the upcoming arrangement in recent months.

"He's got a lot of nice 2-year-olds and the opportunity to work with that caliber of horses is too good to pass," Lynch said.

A native of Australia, Lynch, 40, has trained such stakes winners as Dianehill, Fire Sale Queen, Only the Best, Rexy Sexy, and Riva Ranger in the last 10 years.

Though he is winless with nine starters at this meeting, Lynch is having a successful year, with 13 wins from 46 starters.

Victory Encounter gets a rest

Victory Encounter and Adoration, the first two finishers of the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap last weekend, might not meet again until the fall.

Victory Encounter, who scored a surprise win by closing late into an Adoration and Star Parade speed duel, is bound for the Grade 1, $250,000 Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 1/16 miles July 11, trainer John Sadler said.

Before the Vanity, Sadler and Tom Mankiewicz, who owns Victory Encounter, had planned to run her in the $100,000 Hawthorne Handicap, a Grade 3 over 1 1/16 miles. But since Victory Encounter scored a Grade 1 win in the Vanity, a win in the Grade 3 Hawthorne would do little to enhance her value.

"Time off is good for her right now," Sadler said.

Adoration was beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Victory Encounter. She fought with Star Parade to early stretch, took the lead, and was caught in the final furlong.

"I thought it was one of her gutsiest efforts," said Hofmans, who trains Adoration.

The winner of the 2003 Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita, Adoration will be pointed for the Grade 2, $400,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs over 1 1/8 miles on June 12.

Following that race, she will be given a break before resuming her campaign in anticipation of a start in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30.

"We'll have a race or two before the Breeders' Cup," Hofmans said.

Lennyfromalibu awaits fall schedule

Lennyfromalibu, the winner of the California Cup Mile last fall, has been turned out for 45 days, trainer Barry Abrams said.

Owned by Madeline Auerbach, Lennyfromalibu has developed into a top turf miler in the statebred division. Abrams said Lennyfromalibu will return for a fall campaign.

* Funded by a pick six carryover of $143,950 from Sunday, Wednesday's pick six returned $24,892.40 to 27 winning tickets.

The winning horses in the pick six were Gloriababy ($15.20), Autumn Accent ($4.20), Greenbaypacker ($12), American All Star ($13.80), Pocketfullofpesos ($5.80), and Lady Siphonica ($6.40). Three - Autumn Accent, Pocketfullofpesos, and Siphonica - were favorites.

* Jockey Omar Berrio has withdrawn an appeal of a three-day suspension issued last November and will not ride Saturday through Wednesday.