11/22/2009 12:00AM

Bickersons will need to rebound

Barbara D. Livingston
Tenth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, Bickersons has found a spot that suits her well in the $100,000 Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park on Sunday.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Bickersons may not have liked the Santa Anita racing surface, or maybe the 1 1/16-mile Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies was too far, or perhaps the 20-1 longshot was overmatched.

Whatever the reason for Bickersons's 10th-place finish, trainer Kelly Breen admits, "She just didn't fire."

Sunday at Hollywood Park, Bickersons will try to regain form. The Grade 1-placed filly wheels back in 16 days, shortens to seven furlongs for the $100,000 Moccasin Stakes, and switches to a racing surface generally conducive to speed.

"She has a front-running style, and I don't think Santa Anita was to her liking," Breen said.

It was an idea, not an airtight alibi. And while the Hollywood surface plays to her strength, the question remains whether Bickersons is good enough to win the Moccasin.

"I know it's not an easy race," Breen said, suggesting the main rival for Bickersons was Crisis of Spirit. He is right.

Crisis of Spirit, winner of the six-furlong Anoakia on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita, could be the controlling speed in the Moccasin. She is trained by Bob Baffert, who also entered the closer Miss Heather Lee. Other entrants are Neeko, Lt. Anne, and blinkers-on, fast-work It Tiz.

Although the Moccasin is considered a prep race for the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet at 1 1/16 miles Dec. 20, the Moccasin has not produced a Starlet winner since Magical Maiden in 1991.

Five of the six Moccasin starters are locals. Bickersons will remain in California only with a top effort.

"If she does not perform well, I'll send her back East," said Breen, who is based on the East Coast. If she runs well, Breen will consider the Starlet.

Bickersons has won 2 races and $89,180 from 5 starts, including third-place finishes in two Grade 1's - the Spinaway at Saratoga and the Oak Leaf at Santa Anita. Joe Talamo rides Bickersons.

Crisis of Spirit won the four-horse Anoakia three weeks ago at Santa Anita, her second win from three starts. Her up-front style suits the seven-furlong Hollywood profile. Going into Saturday, five of the six races at the distance were won by a horse within one length of the lead after the opening quarter-mile.

It Tiz looms the upsetter. A 2-for-4 daughter of Tiznow trained by Mark Glatt, It Tiz adds blinkers and had a blazing five-furlong workout one week ago at Hollywood in a bullet 58.60 seconds.