11/03/2006 12:00AM

Bias elusive after opening two days


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The second day of racing over a synthetic surface at Hollywood Park on Thursday produced results remarkably different than on Wednesday's opening day of the fall meeting.

Suddenly, racing on the front was not such a bad strategy. Several of Thursday's winners raced on or near the lead, a style that was not successful on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Bullet Train disputed the lead on a slow pace to win the first race, over seven furlongs. Belvedere Belle led throughout a maiden race over 1o1/16 miles in the fourth race, winning by 3 1/4 lengths. And winners Keepmeinyourheart and French Souvenir were on or near the lead throughout the fifth and eighth races.

By comparison, the six races run on the synthetic track on Wednesday were won by horses that were fourth or farther back in the field after the first quarter-mile and made up 2 1/2 to nine lengths to win.

Several jockeys said Wednesday they are in the midst of learning the best way to ride on this surface, and trainers are adjusting, too.

Before Thursday's fifth race, for $8,000 claimers over 6 1/2 furlongs, trainer Steve Knapp advised jockey William Antongeorgi 3rd, to keep Keepmeinyourheart off the pace.

"I said, 'Hold her as long as you can,' " Knapp said. "He got to hold her a quarter."

Keepmeinyourheart, who has considerable speed, led after a quarter-mile, was third on the turn, and then retook the lead, winning by three-quarters of a length at 21-1. The early fractions were 22.56 and 45.91 seconds.

Knapp thinks that the new synthetic surface will produce slower fractions than the sub-22-second opening quarters and half-mile times of 44 to 45 seconds that have become commonplace in California.

"If we slow the pace down, it will save some of these horses," said Knapp, whose stable consists primarily of claimers and allowance-class horses. "All those fast fractions were hurting those horses."

The star of Thursday's program was apprentice jockey Martin Garcia, who rode four winners - Bullet Train ($11), Belvedere Belle ($17), Outside Looking In ($6), and French Souvenir ($17.20).

Two-day business up and down

Business over the first two days of the meeting has been mixed.

Attendance and handle on Wednesday's card improved over the corresponding day in 2005, but Thursday's program drew scant attention.

While Wednesday's ontrack attendance of 4,283 was up 15 percent over last year, Thursday's crowd of 2,902 was down 14 percent.

All-sources handle for the first two days increased 10 percent, to a combined total of $12,863,255. The overall handle figure was not helped by a low ontrack handle of $739,283 on Thursday, a drop of 8 percent over the corresponding day last year.

After only 58 runners and three five-horse fields on Thursday, the entries are deeper for Sunday's program. The nine-race card drew 74 runners, but none of the fields are full. The largest field is the ninth race, which drew 11 for a maiden claimer for 2-year-old fillies over 6o1/2 furlongs.

Captain Squire is retired at 7

Captain Squire, the winner of four stakes and $1,304,271, has been retired after bleeding in an optional claimer here on Wednesday, trainer Jeff Mullins said.

Owned by Bob Bone and Jeff Diener, Captain Squire has been given to Mullins's wife, Amy, who plans to make the 7-year-old gelding into a riding horse.

Captain Squire gave Mullins his first graded stakes win in the Gradeo2 Laz Barrera Stakes at Hollywood Park in 2002. Captain Squire also won the 2002 Turf Paradise Derby, 2003 Sunshine Millions Sprint, and the Grade 1 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Stakes at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting in 2005.

Captain Squire made two trips to Dubai, finishing third in the $2 million Golden Shaheen Sprint in 2003 and fourth in that race earlier this year.

Derby too far for Porto Santo

It's unlikely that Porto Santo, the winner of Wednesday's one-mile Bien Bien Stakes, will try the $500,000 Hollywood Derby over 1o1/4 miles on turf on Nov. 26, trainer Julio Canani said.

Canani said he would prefer to keep Porto Santo in one-mile races.

In the $62,000 Bien Bien, Porto Santo ($4) rallied from last to win by a length over Zann, a candidate for the Hollywood Derby. Porto Santo ran the mile on turf in 1:34.77.

"The Derby is too far," Canani said. "He's a miler."

Porto Santo won his first race in the U.S. in the Bien Bien. At Del Mar, Porto Santo finished second by a head in a division of the Oceanside Stakes, second by a nose in the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap, and fourth in the Del Mar Derby over 1 1/8 miles on turf, a race in which Canani thinks Porto Santo should not have started.

"He's a little horse," Canani said. "Three races are a lot. It's not the horse's fault. I should have put my foot down."

Farda Amiga's first foal nears debut

Fardinha, the first foal out of the champion Farda Amiga, is likely to start at the Hollywood Park fall meeting.

Trained by Paulo Lobo, who also trained Farda Amiga to the 3-year-old filly championship in 2002, Fardinha, 2, worked a half-mile in 50.40 seconds at Hollywood Park on Thursday.

By Gone West, Fardinha has been with Lobo since the summer.

"She's smaller than Farda Amiga because she's by Gone West and she's a first foal," Lobo said. "Farda Amiga was taller and longer. Fardinha is smaller and more muscular."

Farda Amiga won the Kentucky Oaks and was second in the Breeders' Cup Distaff in her championship season.

The Tin Man works

The Tin Man, the winner of the Arlington Million and three other stakes this year, worked five furlongs in 1:01 on Friday, solidifying his chances for a start in the $400,000 Citation Handicap over 1o1/16 miles on turf on Nov. 24.

Trainer Richard Mandella held The Tin Man out of Saturday's Breeders' Cup Turf because he was not happy with the way the 8-year-old gelding was training in October.

o Mandella may start Boboman in the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup on Dec. 9. Boboman won an optional claimer over 1 1/4 miles on turf in Thursday's seventh race.