09/23/2005 12:00AM

'Anziyan' facing softer in Hinds


POMONA, Calif. - Expectations are usually high for Anziyan Royalty, the 5-year-old who will be favored to win the $100,000 Ralph M. Hinds Handicap on Sunday at Fairplex Park.

A field of nine entered the 1 1/8-mile Hinds, the centerpiece of the Los Angeles County Fair race meet that ends Monday. It is one of the last opportunities for Anziyan Royalty to run over a track he likes, against competition he should beat.

starts as the 120-pound topweight, a deserving impost considering his recent form. In his last start at Del Mar, he finished a neck behind Grade 1 winner Total Impact and a half-length in front of Grade 3 winner Truly a Judge. The knock on Anziyan Royalty is he always looks a little better on paper than he does in the shadow of the finish line.

After winning 4 of his first 7 starts for owner-breeder Nick Cafarchia and trainer Craig Dollase, Anziyan Royalty won just twice from 12 subsequent starts. Of course, the competition has been progressively tougher; Anziyan Royalty has faced Grade 1 winners Unfurl the Flag, Lava Man, and Borrego.

There are no such opponents Sunday at Fairplex, where Anziyan Royalty has a win and second in two starts. David Flores, whose 53 Fairplex stakes wins are the all-time high, rides Anziyan Royalty. A 5-year-old California-bred, Anziyan Royalty has started at odds of 4-1 or less in 13 of his 19 career starts.

Anziyan Royalty would be a standout in the Hinds except for the presence of Robledo. A 5-year-old who won the Turf Paradise Derby in 2003, Robledo is running for only the third time after a break of more than two years. "He never had a serious injury of any kind," trainer Vladimir Cerin said, adding that he only had a "series of unfortunate, small events."

finished second by a length last time in a Del Mar allowance race that qualifies him to win the Hinds. Cerin believes Robledo, 3 for 8 overall, may yet become a top horse.

"He's older, he's more mature, he looks quite strong," Cerin said.

Garrett Gomez rides Robledo, who can score a mild upset if he improves in his third start back. Also among the contenders is , winner of the Phil D. Shepherd Stakes two weeks ago. But it is noteworthy that Anziyan Royalty's jockey rode Robledo and Melanyhasthepapers in their last start, and Flores is sticking with the highweight on Sunday.

The other starters are Pointe Birds, Courtly Jazz, Tobe Suave, Devil Badgett, Intelligent Male, and Robert E.