05/16/2005 11:00PM

Dee Dee's Diner out to lunch?


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - When she made her 20th start last month, veteran sprinter Dee Dee's Diner delivered a career-best performance to win with a 95 Beyer Speed Figure.

Thursday at Hollywood Park, will be favored to win again. The 5-year-old mare will run six furlongs in an allowance/optional claimer with conditions similar to those under which she won on April 16 at Santa Anita.

The handicapping dilemma Thursday is obvious. Bettors who trust Dee Dee's Diner to run two races alike will take a short price in this nonwinners-of-two event with an $80,000 claiming option. But it's not that simple. When a horse jumps up with a career-best figure in his or her 20th start, contrarians wager that the performance will not be repeated.

Six other fillies and mares entered the seventh-race feature. Nearly all are qualified to win, some more so than others. The Bob Baffert-trained Run Rebecca Run defeated Dee Dee's Diner twice in the past six months, and recent below-par efforts might be excused by the mere fact she was facing better opposition. Run Rebecca Run's erratic behavior - she has been scratched more than once on her way to the gate - is one reason she has been referred to as "Will Rebecca Run?"

Victor Espinoza rides , who drops out of successive California-bred stakes to run for an $80,000 claiming tag. Her best efforts (Beyers of 97 and 98) would be good enough to win on Thursday. Run Rebecca Run has won 4 of 16 starts, but her last two have been well below top her form.

Conversely, no entrant is sharper than Dee Dee's Diner. Trained by Bill Spawr, she has won 6 of 20 starts and is eligible to the Thursday feature only because she is running for the $80,000 tag. Dee Dee's Diner has won at Hollywood Park, and her last-start victory in an N2X was flattered when the runner-up, Siphon Honey, returned to finish second in the Grade 3 Hawthorne Handicap.

Dee Dee's Diner is 6 for 13 on a fast track, and Spawr excels at keeping fillies and mares in top form for a series of races. Alex Solis rides Dee Dee's Diner, who is drawn in post 2, directly outside her main pace foe. That is Minnie the Moocher, who tailed off rapidly after two blowout wins early in the Santa Anita winter meet.

is an interesting longshot play. She needed her last start, has run well at Hollywood, and has enough speed to be positioned near the lead.

The others in the race are Delizia, Awesome Lady, and Champ's Rocket.