12/06/2005 12:00AM

Courtly Jazz at a crossroads

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Island Fashion could surpass $2 million in earnings if she wins Sunday's Bayakoa.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The results of Saturday's $100,000 Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park will determine the direction of Courtly Jazz's career in coming months.

If he wins, or finishes close, trainer Gary Mandella will be tempted to try the 4-year-old Courtly Jazz in tougher races. A disappointing run could lead to van rides for easier races at other tracks.

"It will tell us how aggressive we can be," Mandella said of the Native Diver.

The Grade 3 Native Diver is run at 1 1/8 miles. It stands alone on the racing calendar - well after the end of the season's major races and long before the more lucrative races for older horses at the upcoming Santa Anita meeting, such as the San Antonio or Santa Anita handicaps.

Those races are not on Mandella's agenda for Courtly Jazz - at least not yet.

"I'm not sure he's a stakes horse at a mile or a mile and a sixteenth. I feel he is at a mile and an eighth or a mile and a quarter," Mandella said. "He would have to win this awfully easy to think about the San Antonio. It would depend on how many horses are better than him that are out there."

With the retirement of division leader Rock Hard Ten - trained by Mandella's father, Richard - the 2006 handicap division in California is expected to be led by two-time Grade 1 winner Borrego and Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, who is expected to return from a layoff next month.

The Native Diver field could produce a few horses to challenge that pair. The probable starters include Coronado's Pride, McCann's Mojave, No Giveaway, Preachinatthebar, Robledo, Spellbinder, and Trotamondo.

McCann's Mojave won the $250,000 California Cup Classic for statebreds at 1 1/8 miles last month. Trotamondo, a four-time stakes winner in Chile last year, is making his U.S. stakes debut.

Courtly Jazz won his first stakes in the Ralph Hinds Pomona Invitational Handicap as an 11-1 outsider at Fairplex Park in late September. He finished fourth in the Grade 3 Carleton Burke Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 30, leading to early stretch before fading to finish 1 1/4 lengths behind Golden Rahy.

The Pomona Invitational was a milestone win for minority owners Jerry and Jan Hawthorne's Double JH Stable, providing them with their first stakes win. They own one-third of Courtly Jazz, with the rest held by the Bongo Racing Stable. The partners acquired the gelding over the summer in a private deal.

Mandella said he feels confident starting Courtly Jazz at 1 1/8 miles on dirt. "It's a spot that makes a lot of sense. The trip will be real important," he said. "We will find out who the true mile-and-an-eighth horses in this group are. My horse is proven, maybe a touch more than others."

Island Fashion iffy for Bayakoa

Sunday's top race is the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.

The field is led by Dream of Summer and Girl Warrior, both two-time stakes winners this year. Other probable starters are Cream Donut Keith and Halo Ola.

Island Fashion may run, according to trainer Marcelo Polanco. Owned by Jeff Nielsen, Island Fashion needs $52,030 to reach the $2 million mark in earnings. Only a win in the Bayakoa would get her to that goal; a runner-up finish would leave her $22,030 short.

Polanco said he will confer with Nielsen before finalizing plans on whether Island Fashion will start.

Island Fashion, 5, finished 10th in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Belmont Park on Oct. 29, her 11th consecutive loss.

Eventful first trip for rookie rider

The first ride of William Antongeorgi III's career occurred in Sunday's fourth race and resulted in a frightful victory.

Antongeorgi, 18, lost his right stirrup shortly after the start of the seven-furlong race and rode without it to a two-length win aboard Five O'Clock ($6.40).

Throughout the race, Antongeorgi bounced up and down in the saddle as he kept Five O'Clock clear on the lead. Undeterred by a seemingly uncomfortable ride, Antongeorgi kept Five O'Clock on the inside throughout. He accomplished the win despite appearing as if he were barely keeping his balance.

"I wish I could have done it with a little more style, but that's the way it goes," he said after receiving congratulations from friends. "I kept riding. I felt like I had a lot of horse underneath me."

A native of San Diego, Antongeorgi has worked horses for the last few years. He is the son of a jockey of the same name who rode on the East Coast and in California.

Frankel gets well-connected colt

Bobby Frankel has won two runnings of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf with the full sisters Banks Hill (2001) and Intercontinental (2005).

One of the latest additions to his stable is Cacique, a full brother to those mares.

Owned by Juddmonte Farms, which campaigned Banks Hill and Intercontinental, Cacique (Danehill-Hasili) is the winner of three stakes in France, where he placed in three Group 1 races.

Earlier this year, Cacique, 4, finished seventh in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp in September and was a Group 3 stakes winner.

Monday, Cacique worked three furlongs at Hollywood Park in 38.80 seconds.

* Jockey Alex Solis has been given a three-day suspension for his ride on Thunderfrog in last Saturday's sixth race. Thunderfrog, who finished sixth, was ruled to have caused interference near the eighth pole. The suspension begins Sunday and continues until Dec. 16.

* Trainer Luis Seglin has been fined $500 by track stewards after Love Beat, the runner-up in the fourth race on Nov. 24, was found to have tested in excess of the permitted levels of Flunixin, an anti-inflammatory medication.