06/28/2009 12:00AM

Black Mamba looks for a repeat

Barbara D. Livingston
Black Mamba aims to end a five-race losing streak while defending her title in Sunday's Grade 2 Beverly Hills Handicap

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - It's never been easy for Black Mamba to put together a sequence of victories. Her late kick is reliant on a quick pace in long races. More often than not, her rally has come up short.


Last summer, Black Mamba was at her peak, winning the Grade 2 Beverly Hills and Grade 1 John Mabee handicaps in consecutive races. She is winless in five subsequent starts, but trainer John Sadler hopes a return engagement in Sunday's $150,000 Beverly Hills Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Hollywood Park will reverse that trend.

"We're back at her distance, and this should be her time," Sadler said.

Owned by Doubledown Stable, Black Mamba has won 4 of 25 starts and $718,851. She has been second in seven races, including a tough nose loss in the Grade 2 Santa Barbara Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita in April, her first start of 2009.

In the Grade 1 Gamely Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf on May 30, Black Mamba closed from last in a field of nine to finish fourth, 1 1/2 lengths behind Magical Fantasy. It was a subpar effort, and one that came with an excuse, Sadler said.

"The track was a little wet during that period," Sadler said. "She likes it firm."

Joel Rosario has ridden Black Mamba in her last two starts, but Garrett Gomez has the mount Sunday. Gomez was aboard Black Mamba for her two stakes wins last summer.

In the Beverly Hills, Rosario rides You Lift Me Up and will have an important role in the field of six fillies and mares. You Lift Me Up may be alone on the lead. She was second in the Yerba Buena Stakes over 1 3/8 miles on turf at Golden Gate Fields on April 4, leading to the stretch before finishing three-quarters of a length behind Restless Soul, another starter in the Beverly Hills.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, You Lift Me Up has yet to win a graded stakes.

"There is zero speed in there except us," said Dan Ward, Hollendorfer's assistant.

The Beverly Hills will be You Lift Me Up's first start since a fourth in the Fran's Valentine Stakes on April 25.

"She was a tired horse for the [Fran's Valentine]," Ward said. "She'd had a couple of hard races. Now, she's fresh."

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