12/03/2007 12:00AM

Distance a worry for Rockella

Vassar Photography
Rockella could be the key pick six with a $172,765 carryover.
INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Rockella caught trainer Jerry Hollendorfer's eye when she was running in modest claiming races last spring at Santa Anita.

She will draw ample attention from pick-six bettors who are chasing a carryover of $172,765 when she starts in Wednesday's $65,000 Hermosa Beach Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on turf at Hollywood Park.

Hollendorfer could not have known that a $32,000 claimer such as Rockella would develop into a stakes filly. She will attempt to win her second stakes of 2007 in the Hermosa Beach.

"We were just looking for a horse," Hollendorfer said of his early opinion of the filly. "She looked pretty good."

Rockella has drawn the rail in a field of seven fillies and mares. Rockella and Grat, a 5-year-old mare trained by Paddy Gallagher, are the only members of the field with stakes wins this year.

The distance is a slight concern to Hollendorfer. Rockella was tried at 1 1/4 miles on turf for the first time in the California Cup Distance Handicap at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on Nov. 3, and ran well to finish second by three-quarters of a length to Imagine.

"That's an unknown with any of them," Hollendorfer said of the distance. "She did run a good mile and a quarter against pretty good company. She did relax last time and hopefully she can do that again."

Hollendorfer made a note of Rockella when she won a $20,000 claimer at 5 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita on March 29. She returned to win a $32,000 claimer at seven furlongs on April 11, the day that Hollendorfer claimed the 3-year-old filly on behalf of a partnership that includes George Todaro and Debbie Watson. Hollendorfer also owns a share.

"She's developed a little bit," he said. "I think we had to shake for her that day."

Rockella's bankroll has grown substantially since she was claimed. She has earned $106,695 since then and has career earnings of $184,005, the highest in the Hermosa Beach field.

While Rockella is unproven at the distance, Wingspan has run in long races several times. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Wingspan won an allowance race at 1 1/4 miles at Belmont Park in her U.S. debut in June and was second in an allowance race at 1 5/8 miles on the Polytrack at Keeneland on Oct. 24.

Last year in France, Wingspan was second in the Group 3 Prix de Flore over 1 5/16 miles on turf at Saint-Cloud.

Grat is making her second start following a layoff of more than six months. She won the Glendale Handicap at Turf Paradise last January.

The Hermosa Beach is the seventh race on an eight-race program. The pick six begins in the third race, and the sequence includes four fields of 12 or more.

The third race, for statebred maidens going a mile, is the only turf race on the card other than the Hermosa Beach Handicap. Brian the Bold, second in a maiden race on turf at Bay Meadows in September, will attract support in an open race.

Leading trainer John Sadler starts Somthintomakimrun in the fourth race, a 5 1/2-furlong sprint for $9,000 to $10,000 claimers. Somthintomakimrun must outrun the speedy Dark Past, who won his last start at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.

The fifth race is a maiden race at 1 1/16 miles for 2-year-old fillies. Tates Queen, second against a similar field on Nov. 8, adds blinkers and faces seven others, including Life at Ten and Skylighter, who are stretching out from sprints.

There are 12 entrants in the sixth race, a 5 1/2-furlong event for $25,000 claimers. Gray Black n White, winless in his last five starts, moves off the turf. Trainer Bill Spawr, who starts Dark Past earlier on the card, has a top contender in Colonel Courtney. Three of the runners are returning from a layoff of at least one year.

Sadler starts probable favorite Partywithlarryz in the eighth race, a maiden claimer at six furlongs. Partywithlarryz was beaten a half-length in a similar race on Nov. 8.