08/03/2001 11:00PM

Cindy prepping for Oaks


DEL MAR, Calif. - Cindy's Hero, a respectable third over this grass course July 22, faces a serious test in a turf allowance race at Del Mar on Monday.

The winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante last September, Cindy's Hero is the likely favorite against eight 3-year-old filly rivals over 1 1/16 miles.

Trainer David Hofmans considers Monday's race a prep for the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 18. "I know it's only 12 days away, but we'll keep it in mind," Hofmans said.

Cindy's Hero made her turf debut in a one-mile race on July 22. Always close to the pace, she was beaten by 1 1/4 lengths by Tates Creek, and missed second by a head. It was her first start since she finished fourth in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes in December.

"I didn't have her 100 percent ready, but she's ready to go now," Hofmans said. "She had a nice work on Thursday - 1:01 and change - and she finished strong. This race looks like it fits her."

Cindy's Hero will be ridden by Garrett Gomez, who was aboard for the Del Mar Debutante and her July 22 comeback. Monday's race will help determine whether Cindy's Hero is better on turf or dirt. "We're going to find out," Hofmans said. "We know she's run well on dirt."

Typically a stalker, Cindy's Hero faces a field with little pace. Dynamistic, a maiden winner on turf at Hollywood Park on July 4, has been close to the pace in the past, as has Little Hottie, who was fourth behind Cindy's Hero on July 22.

The main competition comes from Desiraes My Candy and Lighten Up Tiny. Desiraes My Candy won a $50,000 claiming race on turf at Hollywood Park on June 16, the day she was claimed by Bill Spawr. In her first start for Spawr's stable, Desiraes My Candy finished second, beating Cindy's Hero by a head.

Lighten Up Tiny is making her turf debut. Trained by Bob Baffert, she won a maiden race and an allowance race at Hollywood Park and was a close second to Above Perfection in the Fleet Treat Stakes for California-breds on July 22. Monday's allowance race is Lighten Up Tiny's first start beyond seven furlongs.