05/15/2007 12:00AM

Declan's Moon tries again

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NGLEWOOD, Calif. - An allowance-caliber gelding finished second in his comeback three weeks ago at Hollywood Park, an effort that facilitated an optimistic post-race spin.

"Running a 96 Beyer is pretty good off a three-month layoff," the gelding's trainer, Ron Ellis said, but he admitted he was not completely satisfied. "If he's not the 2-year-old champion and just an average horse, you're happy with the race."

Oh, the weight of expectations. Declan's Moon, whose six-race losing streak now exceeds the five-race win streak that began his career, will make the second start of his comeback in an allowance race Thursday at Hollywood. Ellis foresees improvement.

"I think he's got something more in the tank," Ellis said, "I don't think he's giving 100 percent yet." The good news for Ellis and owners Mace and Samantha Siegel is that Declan's Moon is showing signs of life after a disappointing winter. The bad news - if it can be called that - is Declan's Moon will always be measured against a brilliant 2004 campaign when he went 4 for 4 and was named champion juvenile.

Race 7 Thursday will determine whether 5-year-old Declan's Moon will continue to bang away in allowance races or return to stakes. His main rivals are He's the Rage, fast runner-up in the Tiznow Stakes, and sharp-working comebacker One Union. To Sender, Soul City Slew, and Dr. Einstein also were entered.

Declan's Moon drew the outside post in the 7 1/2-furlong race, and he will press the pace that might be set by One Union. Richard Mandella trains One Union, who will be racing for the first time in 10 months. One Union had a chip taken out of his knee after finishing second last summer in the Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar.

"He has trained well, he's back and ready to go," Mandella said.

One Union has won 3 of 6, and has a history of running well fresh. He won his debut as a 2-year-old, and scored last summer in his first start after a layoff of nearly five months.

Declan's Moon and One Union are qualified, but the horse to beat Thursday is 6-year-old veteran He's the Rage, 7 for 26 lifetime. Runner-up to Grade 1 winner Greg's Gold in the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes last out, He's the Rage is making his second start for trainer Mike Mitchell and probably would win if he can run back to his 101 Beyer Figure from the Tiznow.

Soul City Slew finished fourth behind Declan's Moon last out. That race was dominated by speed, and a quicker pace would benefit stretch-runner Soul City Slew.