04/29/2009 11:00PM

Diamond Diva looking for real again


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Diamond Diva seemed to be going through the motions of a comeback from a 10-month layoff until she worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 at Santa Anita last Sunday.

In that workout, trainer Jim Cassidy saw clues that Diamond Diva was back to her 2008 form, which resulted in three stakes wins. One of those wins came in the Grade 3 Wilshire Handicap, a title that Diamond Diva will attempt to defend on Saturday at Hollywood Park.

Owned by Three Chimneys Racing, Diamond Diva is the 120-pound highweight in the $100,000 Wilshire, run over a mile on turf for fillies and mares.

"We'll see mentally if she's into it," Cassidy said. "This last work seemed to get her head into it a little more. When they have that much time off, they have a tendency to lose that competitive edge."

Cassidy said she was more aggressive in her recent work than she had been.

"I've had to work her in company several times to get her to work," he said. "She was never one that went out there and burned up the track."

Stakes-placed in England in 2007, Diamond Diva showed significant improvement in four U.S. starts last year, winning the American Beauty Handicap at Santa Anita, the Wilshire and the Grade 2 CashCall Mile at Hollywood Park in July. Her only loss was a second-place finish to the multiple stakes winner Precious Kitten in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes here last May.

After the CashCall Mile, Diamond Diva was turned out with a suspensory injury, ending plans for a start in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf last fall. The same race at Santa Anita this November is the long-term goal for 2009.

Diamond Diva is one of five stakes winners among nine entrants in the Wilshire field. Bel Air Sizzle, Belmont Cat, Gorgeous Goose, and Tizfiz have each won a stakes in the last 18 months.

Bel Air Sizzle is not a confirmed starter. Trainer Barry Abrams said he will assess the field before deciding whether to start the 4-year-old filly. Bel Air Sizzle was fifth as the 9-10 favorite in the Fran's Valentine Stakes for statebred females last Saturday.

Belmont Cat won the Grade 2 Santa Ana Handicap at Santa Anita on March 22 in a 9-1 upset for trainer John Sadler. Belmont Cat has won 3 of her last 4 starts, including a stakes in New Zealand last May.

Gorgeous Goose won the Blue Norther Stakes at Santa Anita in December 2007, and has lost eight subsequent starts in stakes. She won an optional claimer on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on March 8, but was fifth in the Grade 3 Las Cienegas Handicap on the hillside turf course on April 12.

Tizfiz won the Grade 2 San Gorgonio Handicap at Santa Anita in January, but has lost her last two starts - a third in the Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap on Feb. 16 and a seventh in the Grade 2 Santa Barbara Handicap on April 16.

Added race makes a dozen on card

In a week in which Hollywood Park was forced to cancel because of insufficient entries on Thursday, the track will have a 12-race program on Saturday. First post time is 11 a.m.

The Saturday program was originally expected to have 11 races, but an additional race was added when entries were drawn on Wednesday. Tuesday, the track was unable to fill eight races.

Saturday's 12 races attracted 118 horses, but three of those are on the also-eligible list. The average field of 9.58 entrants per race for the remaining horses is the highest since the meeting began on April 22.

Jockeys Tyler Baze, Joel Rosario, and Alex Solis have mounts in 11 of Saturday's races.