04/20/2006 11:00PM

Chilean star Tanta Suerte makes U.S. debut

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Willow O Wisp runs in Saturday's Inglewood Handicap at Hollywood.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Tanta Suerte had a nearly flawless campaign in Chile last year, reeling off five wins in six starts and earning the 2-year-old filly championship for the 2004-05 season.

How that form translates to the United States will be known as quickly as Wednesday, when she makes her American debut in the Grade 3, $100,000 Wilshire Handicap at a mile on turf. The Wilshire is the feature race on the opening day of the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting.

Tanta Suerte, 4, has been in training in the U.S. since the winter and she has acclimated well, trainer Laura de Seroux said. Even so, de Seroux admits that some South American horses do not take to American racing, even if they arrive with top credentials.

"I hope she's as good as her form indicates," said de Seroux. "Chilean form can be strong and can be weak."

Because Tanta Suerte was bred in Chile and was foaled in August, she is several months younger than most 4-year-olds bred in the Northern Hemisphere. As a result, de Seroux did not aim her for a start during the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting.

"The fact that she is still technically 3, I purposefully gave her lots of time to run here," she said.

Tanta Suerte is owned by Bridport, S.A., which co-owned Total Impact, the winner of the 2004 Hollywood Gold Cup for de Seroux.

Tanta Suerte has not started since September, when her five-race winning streak ended with a third-place finish in the Chilean 1000 Guineas. Her winning streak included a Group 1 win and two Group 3 stakes.

Tanta Suerte has worked on turf three times at Santa Anita in the last month, at distances of five and six furlongs.

"She's worked very well," de Seroux said. "She's a beautiful mover. I have enough works in her to be fit enough to run off the bench. She's not overdone. She's a stalker and has a nice finish. I think she can be placed anywhere. She won't be a pace victim or have to have things go her way."

The Wilshire Handicap will have a strong field. The probable starters include Beautyandthebeast, Flip Flop, Heavenly Ransom, Ticker Tape, and possibly Dream's, Dream Lady, or New Regina.

De Seroux said that Round Heels, a stakes winner in France in 2004, will miss the Wilshire because of a lack of recent works.

Ten Hollywood stakes opening week

The opening week of the Hollywood Park meeting features 10 stakes, including the $100,000 Inglewood Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on turf on Saturday and six stakes for California-breds on the Gold Rush program on April 30.

The Inglewood Handicap will include Red Fort, the runner-up in the 2005 running; Willow O Wisp, the 2005 Del Mar Derby winner; Prospect Park, the runner-up in the 2004 French Derby; and Artiste Royal, a group stakes winner in France last year, trained by de Seroux.

The Gold Rush program is led by the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles. The field will include Sam's Ace, the fourth-place finisher in the Florida Derby. Lava Man is expected to run on the turf on Gold Rush Day, in the $150,000 Khaled Stakes.

The Gold Rush program also includes four races for maidens and allowance-class horses.

Valenzuela seizes opportunity

A three-day suspension served by jockey Victor Espinoza this week has tilted the jockey race at Santa Anita in favor of Patrick Valenzuela.

Through Thursday, Valenzuela led the standings with 74 wins, two more than Espinoza.

Valenzuela rode three winners Thursday to overtake Espinoza, who had a 72-71 lead after Wednesday.

Espinoza has not ridden since Wednesday. He served a three-day suspension from Thursday through Saturday for causing interference in the seventh race April 19. Espinoza's mount, Fear No Darkness, was disqualified from second and placed third.

Espinoza had one mount Saturday, in the Santa Barbara Handicap, which is a designated race in which suspended jockeys are permitted to ride. Valenzuela was booked on eight mounts Saturday.

On Sunday, both jockeys have eight mounts on a 10-race program.

The two jockeys have combined to win the last three riding titles at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting. Valenzuela won the 2002-03 and 2004-05 titles. Espinoza won the 2003-04 title and was fifth behind Valenzuela in 2002-03 and 2004-05.

Valenzuela rode only briefly during the 2003-04 meeting. He was suspended for much of that season for missing a mandatory drug test in January of that year.

Mister Triester to Derby Trial

Mister Triester, the runner-up in the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne on April 8, is being pointed for the $100,000 Derby Trial Stakes at Churchill Downs on April 29, trainer Warren Stute said.

Stute said that Mister Triester is not a candidate for the Kentucky Derby and is using the one-mile Derby Trial as a prep for the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 20.

Owned by B. Wayne Hughes, Mister Triester has 1 victory in 8 starts and earnings of $149,680. He beat maidens in his sixth career start before finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Santa Catalina Stakes on March 4.

In the Illinois Derby, Mister Triester finished 9 1/4 lengths behind Kentucky Derby hopeful Sweetnorthernsaint.

Trotamondo sidelined after surgery

Trotamondo, who won the Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park last fall, is out of training after undergoing ankle surgery to have bone chips removed, said his trainer, de Seroux.

Trotamondo has not started since the Native Diver. He was plagued by a quarter crack during the winter and was training for the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap on May 13 when the injury was detected.

"That was a disappointment," de Seroux said. "On the other hand, he's still a young horse and he's recovering. We've already got three weeks behind us" since the surgery.

Jockeys to sign autographs

Santa Anita jockeys will conduct an autograph session for the public from 11 a.m. to noon on Sunday. Similar promotions held at Del Mar have proven to be popular.

Sunday's closing day feature is the $250,000 San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap at about 1 3/4 miles on turf.

The pick six features a mandatory payoff Sunday. If there are no winners of the pick six, the entire pool will be paid to ticket holders with five winners.