03/21/2005 12:00AM

At Dawn could help O'Neill keep record pace


ARCADIA, Calif. - With two more winners on Sunday, trainer Doug O'Neill is now just five victories away from breaking the single-season record for victories at Santa Anita. And there's still one month left in the season.

O'Neill has only one chance to move closer on Wednesday, but it's a good shot. At Dawn, who had a troubled trip when he finished second to the stakes-class Balestrini in his last start on March 5, figures to offer good value in what shapes up as a wide-open featured seventh race, a first-level allowance going 1 1/8 miles on turf.

has won once in four starts since moving to O'Neill's barn late last year. His best races have been when he sits and finishes, but that style found him bottled up in traffic until it was too late last time. Tyler Baze is back aboard.

"He's been a pleasant surprise," said O'Neill, who has 43 victories at this meet, four behind the record of 47 co-owned by Bob Baffert and Gary Jones. "I told Tyler that he's best [running] at a target. He likes to be covered up, too. This race is coming back a little quick, but hopefully it'll be a paid workout for the Gold Rush Day at Hollywood Park" on April 24.

At Dawn also has won on dirt, which could come into play if it rains again. "He's versatile, which is beneficial," O'Neill said.

was third in a similar spot in his last start. Frankelstein has sharp early speed, and his connections have been desirous of trying him on the turf. He was second in his last two races, both which were rained off the grass.

An Argentine invader, , showed little in his U.S. debut on March 2, but he is adding blinkers for this race.

In the day's sixth race, a second-level allowance sprint at six furlongs for older fillies and mares, Minnie the Moocher will be seeking her third straight victory since being claimed by trainer Mike Mitchell. Mazella, who has finished in the money in a pair of stakes this meet, might be her biggest challenge.

Also Wednesday, the first 2-year-old race of the meet will be held. The two-furlong event starts the day's card. Fourteen fillies - all making their debuts - were entered, but a maximum of 10 will run. Riders are not allowed to use whips in these juvenile races.

The trainer Wesley Ward usually does very well with horses such as these, and he appears to have a well-meant first-time starter in Storming Hun, a daughter of Devon Lane who owns a best-of-the-morning gate drill of 23 seconds for a quarter-mile on March 18. Lady Assassin, by Apollo, also has worked swiftly for trainer Cliff Sise.