06/12/2006 11:00PM

Cause to Believe looks to regain form


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - A dry spell in Southern California ended for Jerry Hollendorfer when Hystericalady won the Grade 2 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks on Sunday. Hollendorfer, the dominant trainer in northern California, is not waiting long to try to extend that success.

Saturday, Hollendorfer starts Cause to Believe in the Grade 3, $100,000 Affirmed Handicap for 3-year-olds at Hollywood Park. The Affirmed is run at 1 1/16 miles and is a vital prep to the $350,000 Swaps Breeders' Cup Stakes at 1 1/8 miles here July 8.

For Cause to Believe, the race can serve as a confidence booster following a 13th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Sent off at 25-1, Cause to Believe was last of 20 on the backstretch and finished 21 3/4 lengths behind Barbaro.

"He didn't run very well in the Derby," Hollendorfer said. "I think I misjudged the tactics. He got shuffled back too far and shuffled down to the rail. But I don't want to look at the past."

The loss marked the first time in Cause to Believe's 11-race career that he finished worse than third. In his first 10 starts, he won five stakes. Cause to Believe won the two major Triple Crown preps in northern California: the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows in January and the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields in early March.

The Affirmed will be Cause to Believe's second start in a stakes in Southern California; he was second in the San Miguel Stakes at six furlongs at Santa Anita in January.

Cause to Believe is a rare stakes starter for Hollendorfer in Southern California. Hystericalady was Hollendorfer's first winner on this circuit since the 2005 Del Mar meeting. His barn is not active on this circuit; from the end of the 2005 Del Mar meeting through Sunday, Hystericalady was Hollendorfer's only winner from 13 starters.

"I'm happy to win whenever I can," said Hollendorfer, who turns 57 on Sunday. "I don't ever get too high or too low in what happens in racing."

Hollendorfer may have a chance for a major stakes win in the Swaps if Cause to Believe reverts to his wintertime form Saturday.

"If he runs good in the Affirmed, I'd be looking at the Swaps to see if he could get a mile and an eighth," Hollendorfer said.

Cause to Believe will carry 119 pounds in the Affirmed, two pounds fewer than topweight Point Determined, who finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby and second in the Santa Anita Derby. A. P. Warrior, who won the San Felipe Stakes and was third in the Santa Anita Derby, will carry 120 pounds.

Other probable starters are Your Tent or Mine (119), Record (116), and Arson Squad (115). Blazing Sunset, who won the Alydar Stakes here May 14, will start instead in the $250,000 Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows on June 30, trainer Doug O'Neill said. Neko Bay, the runner-up in the Alydar Stakes, is out of training for 60 days with an undisclosed injury, trainer John Shirreffs said.

The richest race on Saturday's program is the $250,000 Californian at 1 1/8 miles, a prep for the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 8. The list of probable starters includes Dixie Meister, Ice Cole, Melanyhasthepapers, Spellbinder, Preachinatthebar, Super Frolic, and Yes He's a Pistol.

Hystericalady targets Delaware Oaks

Hystericalady and Hollywood Oaks runner-up Squallacious are not likely to meet again this summer.

Hollendorfer said that Hystericalady will be considered for the $500,000 Delaware Oaks at 1 1/16 miles at Delaware Park on July 15.

"She pulled up really good," he said. "We're going to look at several different races. We'll take a hard look at the Delaware Oaks. That's 40 days from our Oaks race here. That's got quite a nice purse."

Hystericalady has won 4 of 6 starts and $159,065 for Rancho San Miguel, George Todaro, and Hollendorfer, who owns a share in Hystericalady.

Squallacious finished 7 1/2 lengths behind Hystericalady, who led throughout. The Oaks was the first loss in three starts for Squallacious, who was returning 11 days after winning an allowance race. The performance did not disappoint trainer Mike Puype.

"There was definitely a little bit of a bias for horses on the lead," Puype said.

Puype said that Squallacious will get a "five- or six-week" break. After discussing options with owner Rick Trontz, Puype said no plans have been finalized, but that the $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes at a mile for 3-year-old fillies at Del Mar on Sept. 1 is a possibility.

"I think she ran a good race for her first route," Puype said. "We got her Grade 2-placed. The winner ran a huge race. That was a visually impressive race by the winner."

Sacred Light gelded

Sacred Light, who finished ninth in the Belmont, was gelded Tuesday, trainer David Hofmans said.

Hofmans and owners John and Jerry Amerman had considered gelding Sacred Light "for some time" before the loss in the Belmont, Hofmans said. Sent off as a longshot, Sacred Light raced wide for the first mile before fading on the final turn.

"He got on the Tex Sutton bad boy list," Hofmans said, referring to the shipping company. Hofmans said that Sacred Light displayed "stud-like behavior" in the flight from New York to California earlier this week.

"Maybe he'll concentrate a little more" on racing, Hofmans said. "He's been a bit difficult to saddle. We'll freshen him up."

Sacred Light has never finished first in eight starts. He finished second but was placed first in a maiden race at Del Mar last summer after encountering interference in early stretch.

* The Tin Man, who won the San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita in January, is being pointed for the American Handicap on July 2, trainer Richard Mandella said. The Tin Man has not started since finishing second in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free in the Middle East on March 25.