06/19/2002 11:00PM

Curtain up on Godolphin, Act III


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The third season of Godolphin Racing's 2-year-old campaign in the United States begins on Saturday when Parhelion makes his career debut in a five-furlong maiden race at Hollywood Park.

This season, expectations are even higher for Godolphin after the success of the last two years. Under the direction of trainer Eoin Harty, Godolphin will have divisions at Arlington Park and in Southern California.

Of course, the Maktoum family's Godolphin Racing provide Harty with a world-class crop of 2-year-old prospects. In 2000, Harty's first crop was led by Street Cry, who finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs. Now trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Street Cry was not a major player as a 3-year-old, but is having an outstanding year at 4, having won the Dubai World Cup in March and the Stephen Foster Handicap last weekend at Churchill Downs.

In 2001, Harty's second year with Godolphin, the team was led by Tempera, the champion 2-year-old filly who won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Belmont Park.

Harty does not expect that level of success from Parhelion, a German-bred by Southern Halo who is a half-brother to the 1999 Italian Derby winner, Mukhalif.

"I think he's a nice horse, but he's far from the top," Harty said.

Parhelion drew the outside post in a field of 10. He faces six other first-time starters and three with race experience, including Kafwain, who was third in a maiden race at Hollywood Park on May 27.

The first-time starters include Man Among Men (by Gentlemen), Ender's Shadow (by A.P. Indy) and Emeritus (by Holy Bully).

Harty had starters by mid-June last year, but admits the current division has been slower to develop.

"I'm about three weeks behind last year due to various circumstances," Harty said. "It's been a little of everything. There was a slight virus and I was a little kind to them to protect their shins. I probably erred on the side of caution.

"I think I'll be running from now on, and I should be in full swing at Del Mar."

Harty is reluctant to guess how successful the current 2-year-olds will be.

"Overall, I think it's a better group," he said. "I don't know if there is a Tempera. I'd be doubly blessed to have another like her."

Tempera was Harty's first champion. Like the rest of the division, she was turned over to Suroor in Dubai over the winter. Sadly, Tempera died in late April of an illness while based in Kentucky.

Silks to tout airline

When Parhelion walks onto the racetrack on Saturday, he is expected to be the first Thoroughbred in California whose owners have acquired a sponsorship deal for racing silks.

The blue colors of Godolphin will carry a "Fly Emirates" logo, representing the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, which the Maktoum family rules.

Sponsorships for silks, jockey attire, and saddlecloths was approved by the California Horse Racing Board earlier this year. Potential advertising must be approved by track stewards.

"There have been some that are tinkering around with it, but none have come forward," steward Pete Pedersen said of owner interest.

Collectively, a group of jockeys are seeking sponsorships that would appear on their riding pants, but no deals have been reached.

A similar program has been active in the United Kingdom for nearly a decade, and includes logos on jockeys' silks, and turtlenecks; windbreakers that stable staff wear in the paddock; and horse blankets, which almost always bear sponsors' logos.

Blu Air Force wins

Blu Air Force made up more than eight lengths from the middle of the turn to win the $75,600 Robert Kerlan Handicap on Wednesday for turf sprinters, but trainer Bobby Frankel was reluctant to call it his best race.

Blue Air Force ($5) finished 5 1/2 furlongs on turf in 1:01.37, winning by 1 1/2 lengths over Astonished. Fourth early, Blu Air Force caught Astonished in the final sixteenth. Through the first half-mile Tavasco and Astonished had fought through quick fractions of 21.53 and 43.46 seconds. Even though that pair had pulled clear by six lengths on the final turn, jockey Alex Solis was not concerned about Blu Air Force.

"I hadn't asked him yet," Solis said. "He's pretty amazing. He can give me a quarter in 21 seconds."

Frankel was impressed with the win, but thought it ranked with a third by Blu Air Force in the Grade 3 Hollywood Turf Express Handicap last November behind Swept Overboard and the Frankel-trained Speak in Passing.

"I couldn't say one is better than the other," Frankel said. "He ran a good race behind Swept Overboard."

Plans for Blu Air Force are uncertain. Frankel said Blu Air Force could stretch out to a mile, ship to Toronto for a stakes, or start here in the Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap over seven furlongs on dirt here on July 6.

Dublino works for Oaks

Dublino, stakes-placed in France in her last start in April, worked six furlongs in 1:13.20 on turf Thursday in preparation for her U.S. debut in the $500,000 American Oaks on July 6.

Dublino is owned by a partnership that includes Mike Klein, the son of the late Eugene Klein. For three consecutive years, 1985-87, Eugene Klein and his wife, Joyce, earned Eclipse Awards as the nation's outstanding owners. Working with trainer D. Wayne Lukas, the Klein stable was led by 1986 Horse of the Year Lady's Secret and 1988 Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors.

Dublino is one of six 3-year-old fillies who made their last starts in Europe who are being considered for the American Oaks.

Trainer Laura de Seroux said Dublino would have been pointed to the French Oaks if she had stayed in France.

The European invaders are expected to face eight fillies based in the United States, including the Frankel-trained Megahertz, who won the Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap on June 8. Invitations will be issued on Saturday.

Audrey Skirball-Kenis dead

Audrey Skirball-Kenis, who along with her husband, Charles, operated a top racing stable, died on Wednesday of natural causes, her family announced. She was 87.

With her husband, the family raced such prominent horses as Hollywood Derby winner Super Quercus, as well as Mazel Trick, Northern Quest, See You Soon, Sixieme Sens, Uncharted Haven, and The Seven Seas, all trained by Bobby Frankel.

A philanthropist for various charities in the Los Angeles area, Skirball-Kenis is survived by her husband and two daughters.