04/24/2008 12:00AM

Diamond Diva's best yet to come


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Diamond Diva has won one-mile turf stakes in her first two starts in this country and has yet to play to her strength, trainer Jim Cassidy said.

"She's not a miler," he said.

Could have fooled everyone. Diamond Diva won her U.S. debut in the American Beauty Handicap at Santa Anita on March 30, and followed with a sharp win in Wednesday's $110,800 Wilshire Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Ridden by David Flores, Diamond Diva rallied from fifth to win the Grade 3 Wilshire by three-quarters of a length over Kris' Sis. La Tee finished third in the field of nine fillies and mares. Diamond Diva was timed in a quick 1:33.21.

Cassidy has bigger hopes for Diamond Diva later this year. He mentioned the $750,000 CashCall Mile on July 5 and the Gradeo1 John Mabee Handicap at Del Mar later this summer as goals.

Diamond Diva rallied from mid-pack in the Wilshire.

"What I liked is she was able to rate on the backstretch, which she hadn't before," Cassidy said. "She was pretty keen the first time."

Owned by Three Chimneys Racing, Diamond Diva has won 5 of 14 starts and $247,803.

Opening-day business is down

Wednesday's eight-race program, the first of 60 days at the meet, had declines in attendance and handle compared to opening day last year.

The on-track crowd of 4,472 was down 6 percent from the 4,788 figure of 2007. The on-track handle of $1,019,528 was down 19 percent. The all-sources handle, including satellite and advance-deposit wagering, was $7,208,514, a decline of 14 percent.

This may be the final spring-summer meeting at Hollywood Park. At a California Horse Racing Board meeting on Thursday, track president Jack Liebau said he "didn't know" whether the track would request racing dates for 2009. "I don't know if anybody knows," he said.

The track's parent company, Bay Meadows Land Co., has expressed a desire to develop the property and is currently going through the regulatory stages, or entitlements, needed to build homes and businesses. It is unclear when that process will be completed.

Quick return for Bel Air Sizzle?

Bel Air Sizzle, who was erroneously entered in Sunday's $200,000 Melair Stakes, won an allowance race on Thursday and may run again on Sunday as a result of her victory, trainer Barry Abrams.

An apparent miscommunication with the Hollywood Park racing office on Thursday morning led Bel Air Sizzle to be entered in the Melair. Abrams had intended to run the undefeated Lethal Heat, but she was not among the eight 3-year-old fillies entered on Thursday morning. Abrams and co-owner Madeline Auerbach claimed they had entered Lethal Heat and that she had been left out of the field by a racing office mistake. They unsuccessfully lobbied racing officials to have the race redrawn to include Lethal Heat.

After Bel Air Sizzle won the 1 1/16-mile allowance race on turf by 2 3/4 lengths, Abrams said she may run in the Melair.

Lethal Heat, the winner of the Grade 3 Santa Paula Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs on March 30, would have been favored in the Melair, run over 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-old statebred fillies.

Albertus Maximus looking up off win

Albertus Maximus, the front-running winner of an allowance race on Wednesday, may return in the $250,000 Californian Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on May 31, trainer Gary Mandella said.

Albertus Maximus led throughout Wednesday's race over 1 1/16 miles, pulling away to win by 6 1/4 lengths. He was timed in 1:41.63.

"His feet are in good shape and his legs are in good shape," Mandella said.

Owned by Brandon and Marianne Chase, Albertus Maximus, 4, has won 3 of 10 starts, but has yet to win a stakes. He was second in the Gradeo3 Affirmed Handicap and Grade 2 Swaps Breeders' Cup Stakes over this track last summer.

The Grade 2 Californian Stakes is run over 1 1/8 miles, and may attract Heatseeker, the winner of the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap in March, and Tiago, the winner of the Oaklawn Handicap last month.

Mandella said the $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap over 1 1/16 miles in Texas is another possibility for Albertus Maximus.

Salute the Sarge to Laz Barrera next

Salute the Sarge, who finished seventh in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 19, will be pointed for the $100,000 Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes over seven furlongs here on May 18, trainer Eric Guillot said.

Guillot had considered Salute the Sarge for the Kentucky Derby on May 3 until the colt's disappointing performance in the Lexington over 1 1/16 miles. "He's not a router," Guillot said.

Salute the Sarge has been sent back to Guillot's stable at Hollywood Park and resumed racetrack training on Thursday, Guillot said.