11/27/2003 12:00AM

In Citation, styles make the race

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The opposite racing styles of Mister Acpen and Irish Warrior could make for a stirring stretch duel in Saturday's $400,000 Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Mister Acpen is a confirmed front-runner, a tactic that led to a win in his most recent start, the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap in late September. Irish Warrior is most effective as a closer, having rallied to win the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap in late August. He finished a respectable fourth in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita.

Those two are top contenders in the Grade 2 Citation, run at 1 1/16 miles on turf. They appear to be in better form than Redattore, the 120-pound topweight, who is winless in his last three starts.

The winner of the Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile on turf here in May, Redattore followed that race with a puzzling sixth in the Eddie Read Handicap and third-place finishes in the Live the Dream Handicap on turf at Del Mar and the Seabiscuit Handicap on dirt at Santa Anita.

Captain Squire, Green Line, and Nicobar also start in the Citation. Captain Squire finished seventh in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. His last win came in the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita last January.

Green Line and Nicobar are coming off losses in allowance races on turf.

Irish Warrior may go favored. The Citation is his first start since he finished 2 1/4 lengths behind Six Perfections in the BC Mile. Sent off at 32-1, Irish Warrior rallied from last in a field of 13 and was running well at the finish.

Trainer Wally Dollase said that Irish Warrior's stretch kick is the 5-year-old's biggest asset.

"He doesn't want to be pushed early," Dollase said. "When you ask him at the top of the stretch, he gives you a 22 and change quarter-mile."

A quick pace would help Irish Warrior. Mister Acpen is likely to be joined on the front by Captain Squire, who raced near the front in recent starts.

Mister Acpen is only effective when allowed to bowl along on the lead, according to trainer Kristin Mulhall.

"That's the way he is," Mulhall said. "We played around at Del Mar trying to take him back and screwed up. It's kind of scary. The ranker he is, the better he runs. The moment he relaxes, he spits out the bit."

The Citation is the top race on a program that includes the $100,000 Generous Stakes for 2-year-olds at a mile.