07/09/2001 11:00PM

Classy pair return in perfect spot


Self Feeder and Zentsov Street, two of this circuit's best middle-distance turf horses, return from layoffs in Thursday's fifth race at Hollywood Park, an optional claiming race, which is one of two races on the card featuring good horses in small fields.

The other race of note is the seventh, a classified allowance turf sprint for older fillies and mares that includes course specialists Connate and Pretty Eyes and the comebacking High Margin.

Self Feeder and Zentsov Street both excel at the one-mile distance of the fifth race, which drew a field of six chasing a $54,000 purse.

Self Feeder has been off since the early part of Santa Anita's meeting, but he proved last year that middle distances on the Hollywood turf are his strong suit. In two starts here last fall, he finished second to Senure, this year's United Nations Handicap winner, and defeated Irish Prize, who has gone on to become a Grade 1 winner. In eight starts on the Hollywood turf, Self Feeder owns three wins and three seconds.

Zentsov Street has not raced since getting sawed off in the stretch run of the Nov. 26 Hollywood Derby, in which he was moved from fourth to third after Designed for Luck was disqualified. He has a history of running well fresh, and drew the advantageous rail.

Cagney, a Grade 1 stakes winner in Brazil, has a terrific chance to upset the top two. He takes a class drop, and shortens up to a distance that probably better suits him, after finishing sixth in the Grade 1 Whittingham Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on June 10.

"We jumped him up to a tough group for the Whittingham," his trainer, Richard Mandella, said on Tuesday. "We think he's a pretty good horse."

Cagney closed furiously behind a soft pace in his only other start in this country.

The seventh race, which drew just five runners going 5 1/2 furlongs for a $56,000 purse, has attracted either turf sprinters trying to get in one last run before taking a hiatus from their specialty, or middle-distance horses prepping for Del Mar.

Connate was a 32-1 upset winner of the Great Lady M. Handicap at Hollywood on June 10, while Pretty Eyes is stepping up in class after a pair of victories against softer. Since Del Mar does not have turf sprints, these mares will not get another chance to sprint on turf locally until Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting 2 1/2 months from now.

High Margin has not raced since December, but she likes to win races, having captured 5 of 12. She can win off the layoff, but she also could be prepping for Del Mar.