11/19/2001 12:00AM

Canani has new shooter


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The familiar faces are tired and worn, stuck at this first-condition allowance level for months. In these circumstances, it is tempting to go searching for a newcomer, and in Wednesday's featured seventh race at Hollywood Park, it just might pay off.

Nazirali, who has been racing at provincial tracks in France, offers a tempting alternative to the same old thing. He is making his United States debut for trainer Julio Canani, who has transformed similarly unaccomplished Europeans into productive horses on this circuit. And though Nazirali looks on paper as though he is making a significant step up in class, he ran well in large fields in France, can handle Wednes-day's distance of 1 1/4 miles on turf, and gets a solid endorsement from his trainer.

"He's training good. He's supposed to be a decent horse," Canani said Sunday. "I've had him about a month. He was running against multiple winners over there all the time. He was running against decent horses. The distance is good. And he's supposed to like firm turf."

Nazirali owns one win and two seconds in his three starts. Because he is a gelding, and because his previous owner and trainer have scores of group stakes runners in Europe, Nazirali was a logical pick to send to the United States, where he could compete for larger purses.

Canani has an excellent strike rate with horses returning from brief vacations, winning at a better than 20 percent clip.

Double Aguila has a chance to improve in his second start in this country. He raced against much tougher competition at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting while making his first start in 8 1/2 months. His South American form was quite good, and he should appreciate this softer spot.

Tortuguero fought it out bravely when he finished fourth after opening a large lead in his last start at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting. He again could pose an elusive target, and he is exiting a race that already has proven productive, with runner-up Continental Red returning to win here last week.

The tired, familiar faces are best exemplified by Audmar, who often looms ominously, and usually fails to punch it in. He has been 8-1 or less in his last eight starts, and 11 of his last 12, yet he has won just once in 22 lifetime starts. He has finished third nine times.

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