06/29/2006 11:00PM

A closer look at Hollywood four-pack

Benoit & Associates
Hollywood Story (left) and Star Parade will face off again in the Vanity.

PHOENIX - There are plenty of chances for fireworks at Hollywood Park on Sunday - four, to be specific, as the track presents a quartet of good stakes, each of which has its own appeal. Let's take a race-by-race look:


This may be a bit like turning on the TV and seeing some old sitcom that you've seen a million times and know all the lines to. We have seen Proposed, Star Parade, Hollywood Story, and Healthy Addiction knock heads before, but the result hasn't always been the same. Healthy Addiction won Grade 1 Santa Margarita. Star Parade won the Grade 1 Santa Maria. Proposed just won the Grade 2 Milady, and Hollywood Story has always done her best work over this track and has been right in the thick of things with these fillies and mares for some time.

So who has the edge here? Well, the key may be the last furlong of the 1 1/8-mile race. Proposed just beat some of these in the 1 1/16-mile Milady. She dueled on the lead that day, looked beaten into the lane when Somethingaboutlaura passed her, but rerallied for the game score. She's now 4 for 4 over this track, but she tacks on another 110 yards. Had the Milady been at nine furlongs, Star Parade would likely have gotten to her.

It took a while for the gallant 7-year-old Star Parade to get going in the Milady, but once she did she closed strongly in the final yards to miss by a head. With Healthy Addiction likely to battle Proposed early in the Vanity, Star Parade can sit in just behind, pounce into the lane, and get first run on closer Hollywood Story. While Proposed and Hollywood Story have done their best work over this track, Star Parade has also has had success over the Hollywood strip, where she's a smart 4 for 8.

American Handicap

Trainer Neil Drysdale reportedly had Red Fort waiting in the wings to accompany Fourty Niners Son in this race. But Red Fort wasn't entered, which may mean Drysdale is feeling pretty darn good about Fourty Niners Son. And why not? Fourty Niners Son was a strong second in his only start this year in an allowance race in May. He skipped the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham with a slight setback, but has worked steadily for this and was pretty darn good last year when he was third in this race, second in the Grade 1 Eddie Read, third in the Grade 1 Arlington Million, and then first in the Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch.

Fourty Niners Son must face The Tin Man. Trained by Dick Mandella, The Tin Man might be an 8-year-old now, but he's still among the turf elite, as evidenced by his super win in the Grade 2 San Marcos at Santa Anita, where he beat Milk It Mick, who promptly came right back to win the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile. The Tin Man's last outing, a defeat, may have been his best run in years. He was a strong second in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free, taking the lead into the lane and continuing on well. Sure, he was no match for David Junior in the final furlongs, but that horse is one of the best half-dozen middle-distance turf runners in the world. The Tin Man has worked well, and all reports from the Mandella camp are that he's doing great.

American Oaks

Japanese runners have had a big say in this, as Dance in the Mood was a good second in this race in 2004 and Cesario was outright dominant winning this last year. Asahi Rising may not be as good as either but she's pretty strong. Also, save for Attima and Wait a While (who both have some question marks) this might not be the strongest American contingent either.

Attima is explosive, but her trainer, Julio Canani, has been hemming and hawing since her big Grade 2 Honeymoon victory about coming back in slightly less than a month for this. There is also a concern about whether she can get the 1 1/4-mile Oaks distance after winning the 1 1/8-mile Honeymoon. She's at least working in smashing fashion and of course you take Canani lightly at your own peril.

Triple Bend

Publication was gone more than two years but you wouldn't know it by the way he ran on so strongly to win his comeback race May 20. That was over allowance foes and the water's deeper here, but he loves this race's seven-furlong distance. No doubt his trainer, Vladimir Cerin, has been targeting this race. Publication should get his kind of pace, and note that back in 2003 he just missed getting up to win this. The way he won six weeks or so ago hints he hasn't lost much off that form.