07/13/2006 11:00PM

Declan's Moon returns in allowance

On Sunday, Declan's Moon will race for the first since he won the Santa Catalina (above) in March 2005.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Declan's Moon, the champion 2-year-old male of 2004, makes a long-awaited comeback from injury in an allowance race at Hollywood Park on Sunday.

Trainer Ron Ellis and owner Samantha Siegel say Declan's Moon has trained well enough in recent weeks to keep his unbeaten record intact.

Declan's Moon is entered in an optional claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs, the first race on the final day of the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting. Declan's Moon drew post 4 and has four opponents - Yes He's a Pistol, Desert Boom, Seattle Buddy, and Areyoutalkintome.

Sunday's race is Declan's Moon's first start since he won the Grade 2 Santa Catalina Stakes at Santa Anita in March 2005. Shortly after that race, he was found to have a knee injury that kept him out of the Triple Crown. Declan's Moon returned to training in August 2005, but was taken out of training last fall when a nuclear scan revealed a fracture at the top of a cannon bone.

Since his return to training earlier this year, Declan's Moon has encountered no problems, Ellis said.

"I think he's as fit as I'd want him off a layoff," Ellis said. "I think I've done enough that he can win on Sunday. He's got a good foundation under him. He hasn't missed a step since he's come back this time."

Ellis said he intends to use Sunday's race as a prep to the $300,000 Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap at seven furlongs at Del Mar on Aug. 20.

A winner of five races and $627,300, Declan's Moon has worked quickly in recent weeks, including five furlongs in 58.80 seconds at Santa Anita on July 2 and five furlongs from the gate in 59 seconds at Hollywood Park last Sunday. Both were the fastest recorded works at those distances.

Siegel, who co-owns Declan's Moon with her father, Mace, has watched Declan's Moon's workouts in the buildup to his comeback.

"To me, he looks bigger and stronger and more impressive," said Samantha Siegel. "I think he'll pick up where he left off."

Valdivia to miss Del Mar's first week

Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr., who suffered a broken collarbone in a spill on June 25, is likely to return to riding later this month, according to his agent, Michelle Barsotti.

Valdivia had hoped to receive clearance from Dr. James Tibone on Thursday to begin riding at the start of the Del Mar meeting on Wednesday. But Tibone, who works closely with Southern California jockeys who are recovering from injuries, advised Valdivia to rest for another week.

"The doctor wouldn't release him without a little bit of therapy because of his occupation," Barsotti said. "They said it's starting to calcify. He'll start the second week."

The second week of the Del Mar meeting runs from July 26-31. Barsotti said it was unclear what day Valdivia would be able to return.

The jockey was injured when he was thrown from New Joysey Jeff during the stretch run of the Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap. New Joysey Jeff was contending for the lead when he drifted to the outside and unseated Valdivia.

At the Hollywood spring-summer meeting, which ends Sunday, Valdivia won 13 races from 111 mounts.

Oceanside a hot spot again

New Joysey Jeff, trained by Mark Glatt, is among the nominations for Wednesday's $100,000 Oceanside Stakes at a mile on turf for 3-year-olds at Del Mar.

The Oceanside has been split into two divisions every year since 1989, and interest is high again this year. Some of the leading contenders include Porto Santo, a recent import from France trained by Julio Canani; Blazing Sunset, the winner of the Alydar Stakes at Hollywood Park in May; and Obrigado, who finished third in the Grade 3 Will Rogers Stakes on May 21.

Trainer John Sadler plans to start Get Funky and Hit It Skip, both of whom are unproven in stakes.

Get Funky won his only start at Hollywood Park in an optional claimer at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf on June 18. He rallied from fifth to win by a nose.

"He galloped out about 10 lengths in front," Sadler said. "It looks like he wants a distance."

Hit It Skip has won his last two starts - a $50,000 claimer on June 15 and an allowance race on June 30. In the latter race, he rallied from sixth to finish a head in front of Add Heat, another candidate for the Oceanside.

Dollase, Reddam target Grade 1's

There are six stakes in the first five days of the Del Mar meeting, and owner Paul Reddam and trainer Craig Dollase will have starters in the two Grade 1 races - Dancing Edie in next Saturday's John Mabee Handicap and Hendrix in next Sunday's Eddie Read Handicap. Both races are worth $400,000 and will be run at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Dancing Edie and Hendrix are coming off productive meetings at Hollywood Park, even though they failed to win a stakes. They combined to earn $249,900 in five starts.

Dancing Edie ran three times, finishing second in the Fran's Valentine Stakes in April, second in the Grade 1 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap in May, and fourth in the CashCall Mile on July 1.

"Fourth, second, second - and a win," Dollase said with a grin, looking toward the Mabee Handicap.

Dollase is hoping that the distance of the Mabee will suit Dancing Edie better than a one-mile race. "She's more of a distance filly," he said.

Hendrix ran twice, winning an allowance race on May 20 and returning to finish a game second in the American Handicap on July 2. The Tin Man made an easy lead and held off a late threat from Hendrix to win by three-quarters of a length.

A larger field in the Read, and more pace, would help Hendrix's late kick.