07/16/2009 11:00PM

Coco Belle tests stamina in A Gleam


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - To win her third consecutive start in Saturday's $150,000 A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park, Coco Belle must do something she has never done - win over seven furlongs.

At shorter distances, Coco Belle has been brilliant this year at Hollywood Park. She won an allowance race over 6 1/2 furlongs by a length on May 7 and the fourth stakes of her career in the Desert Stormer Handicap over six furlongs on June 14.

Trainer John Sadler has kept Coco Belle at those distances since last fall and she has not been worse than fourth. Her success at seven furlongs depends on whether jockey Mike Smith can conserve her energy in the first half-mile. Coco Belle is expected to have the early lead, a style that has been favorable at Hollywood Park in the last week.

"Now is a good time to try it with her," Sadler said of the distance. "Mike's a good savvy old jock."

Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, Coco Belle, 5, has won 7 of 23 and $450,113. The success makes her the 120-pound topweight in the Grade 2 A Gleam, which has drawn a field of nine fillies and mares.

Sadler has two starters. Evita Argentina, a winner of 4 of 9 starts and $341,400, is one of two 3-year-old fillies in the field. A closer, Evita Argentina is a seven-furlong specialist, having won the Moccasin Stakes here last November and the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes against males at Santa Anita in February.

"They complement each other," Sadler said. "I'll have one on the front and one in last."

Coco Belle could face early pressure from Cry and Catch Me, winner of the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita in 2007. Trained by Bob Baffert, Cry and Catch Me won an optional claimer over 6 1/2 furlongs on June 7 in her only start this year.

Lovely Isle, the winner of the Kalookan Queen Handicap over 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita last December, makes her first start for trainer Jeff Mullins. Owned by Michael Bello, Lovely Isle was previously trained by Bobby Frankel.

The A Gleam will be Lovely Isle's first start since a third in the Hurricane Bertie Stakes at Gulfstream Park in February.

"I'd like to see her run the Kalookan Queen back," Mullins said. "She's pretty easy to train."