06/08/2004 11:00PM

Dollase seeks 2nd turf prize


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Last Saturday, Meteor Storm gave trainer Wally Dollase a mild upset win in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park.

This Saturday, Dollase will attempt to win one of the top turf races of the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting when Irish Warrior starts in the $350,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap.

A victory by Irish Warrior, a two-time stakes winner, would give Dollase two horses for the top turf stakes in coming months.

Irish Warrior will carry 115 pounds in the Whittingham, which is expected to draw a field of about 10.

"I think he'll run a good race," Dollase said. "I don't see any Meteor Storms in there."

Irish Warrior finished fourth in the Inglewood Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on turf on May 1, losing by 4 1/4 lengths to Leroidesanimaux. Dollase said the Inglewood was a prep for Saturday's 1 1/4-mile race.

"It was too short for him," he said. "The race was the only place to run him."

Irish Warrior won the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf last summer. In six subsequent starts, he has finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Mile, second in the Citation Handicap in November, and first in the Turf Paradise Breeders' Cup Handicap in February.

"He's been so consistent and has made a lot of money for us," Dollase said. "A mile and a quarter is well within his distance. We learned last year in the Del Mar Handicap that he can get a mile and three-eighths. I have a good feeling he'll do well."

Jose Valdivia Jr., who was aboard Meteor Storm in the Manhattan, will ride Irish Warrior in the Whittingham.

Other probable starters for the Whittingham include Bayamo, Continental Red, Continuously, Della Francesca, Even the Score, Just Wonder, Musical Chimes, Sabiango, Sienne, and Vangelis.

Even the Score - who was without a rider on Wednesday, according to trainer Vladimir Cerin - and Vangelis, a European invader, will share high weight of 117 pounds.

Musical Chimes is the lone female in the field. She was assigned 113 pounds, but jockey Kent Desormeaux will tack a few pounds of overweight.

Trained by Neil Drysdale, Musical Chimes is winless in six starts dating back to the French 1000 Guineas in May 2003. In her lone start this year, she was second in a one-mile allowance race against males on May 30.

Short fields for undercard stakes

The two other stakes on Saturday's program will have short fields - the $250,000 Californian over 1 1/8 miles and the $175,000 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks over 1 1/16 miles.

The probable starters for the Californian are Buckland Manor, Ender's Shadow, Gift of the Eagle, Total Impact, and Nose the Trade. Trainer Jeff Mullins said the unbeaten Choctaw Nation will not start.

The Oaks field is expected to include Class Above, Elusive Diva, Hollywood Story, House of Fortune, and M.A. Fox.

Hollywood Story was fifth in the Kentucky Oaks, finishing in front of House of Fortune (eighth) and Class Above (11th). Elusive Diva and M.A. Fox were first and second in the Grade 3 Railbird Stakes at seven furlongs on May 2.

The field will not include A.P. Adventure, the winner of the Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita in February.

Dollase said A.P. Adventure is out for a few months with an injury. "She's just off a bit behind," he said.

Dollase said he is optimistic that the injury will not prevent A.P. Adventure from having a fall campaign.

"This is temporary," he said. "We can't figure out what it is."

Meteor Storm back from Belmont

Meteor Storm returned to Dollase's Hollywood Park stable Tuesday. Dollase said the main goal for the summer is the 1 1/4-mile Arlington Million on Aug. 14, with possible preps in the $750,000 United Nations Handicap over 1 3/8 miles at Monmouth Park on July 3, or the $200,000 Stars and Stripes Handicap over 1 1/2 miles at Arlington on July 4.

Meteor Storm has won three consecutive stakes, including the San Luis Rey Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf in March and the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano Handicap over about 1 3/4 miles on turf in April, both at Santa Anita.

Machowsky gets two Stronach 2-year-olds

Trainer Mike Machowsky has added to his stable two juvenile colts owned by Frank Stronach, the chairman of Magna Entertainment, which owns Santa Anita.

Welcome Again, by Awesome Again, and Cadillac Cruiser, by Touch Gold, are not likely to start until the end of the current Hollywood Park meeting or the start of the Del Mar meeting, Machowsky said.

Machowsky said the pair have had two half-mile workouts at Stronach's Florida farm under the supervision of trainer Randy Bradshaw.

Despite his status as Santa Anita chairman, Stronach has a modest racing presence in California. He campaigned Milwaukee Brew, who won the Santa Anita Handicap in 2002 and 2003, but has few horses based on the West Coast.

Lydgate has five-furlong work

Lydgate, who won the Grade 3 Aegon Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs on April 30, worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 at Santa Anita on Wednesday and is on schedule for a start at Royal Ascot in England on Tuesday.

Trained by Eoin Harty for Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stud, Lydgate is the only expected American invader at Royal Ascot. Lydgate is nominated for the Group 2 King's Stand Stakes over a straight five furlongs.

Harty realizes the journey and the race will be a tough test. "I wouldn't attempt to go if I didn't think he was 100 percent," he said.

Lydgate was scheduled to be flown to England on Thursday.

* Also at Santa Anita, Pleasantly Perfect, the winner of the Dubai World Cup in his last start on March 27, worked a half-mile in 51 seconds. Trainer Richard Mandella is considering the $250,000 San Diego Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on Aug. 1 for Pleasantly Perfect's next start.