Updated on 09/16/2011 7:35AM

Denon owes his backers plenty


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Denon has been a disappointment to bettors since his eye-catching win in the Hollywood Derby last November.

Sent off as the favorite in two Grade 2 stakes at Santa Anita earlier this year, Denon finished fifth in both, caught in traffic in the San Luis Obispo Handicap and failing to rally in the San Luis Rey Handicap.

Three months later, Denon returns in Saturday's $350,000 at Hollywood Park as a contender in a wide-open turf race over 1 1/4 miles.

Denon is one of three entrants trained by Bobby Frankel, who says he will have only two starters. Skipping, the likely favorite on the strength of his win in the restricted Jim Murray Handicap on May 19, starts for Frankel, while Kappa King, a recent allowance race winner, will be scratched, Frankel said.

Denon placed in two Group 1 races in France last year and won the Hollywood Derby by a length. Frankel has forgiven the losses in the San Luis Obispo and San Luis Rey handicaps.

"The last time he was at the back with no pace," Frankel said. "We've been waiting for the right distance."

Skipping ran in lower-class races in France, but did win three races over 1 1/4 and 1 5/16 miles, including one against a 20-horse field.

A 5-year-old, Skipping scored his first U.S. win in the Jim Murray over 1 1/2 miles on turf. Denon and Skipping will face eight others, including Continental Red, who won the San Luis Rey Handicap in March; Cagney, who adds blinkers for the first time and is seeking his fifth career stakes win; and Ringaskiddy, the upset winner of the San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap.

Sarafan, the winner of the Explosive Bid Handicap at Fair Grounds in March, and Night Patrol, the winner of the Inglewood Handicap here last month, are stretching out.

Startac, who was second to Skipping in the Jim Murray Handicap, will set the pace. Spinelessjellyfish, third in the Shoemaker Mile at 71-1 on May 27, is entered, but trainer Jenine Sahadi said he may not start.

Startac and Night Patrol figure to lead, with plenty of contenders in close pursuit. Continental Red will be one of those stalkers, seeking his second stakes win of 2002.

"Red is in tough," trainer Ian Jory said. "He gives you all he's got, but there's not much of him. He's a skinny little thing. I think a mile and a half is his best distance, but I don't think a mile and a quarter is too short."