11/30/2004 12:00AM

'Easy' bullet for Declan's Moon

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Benoit & Associates
Declan's Moon will use the Hollywood Futurity in his bid to gather late support for 2-year-old champion.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Ron Ellis is naturally effusive, and has done some work in television, so he's rarely at a loss for words. But after watching Declan's Moon turn in a sublime, effortless work on Tuesday morning at Hollywood Park, the trainer was at a loss for words.

"I really don't know what to say," Ellis said. "I mean, whatever he went, that's as easy as he could go."

It was only a half-mile work, just something to get Declan's Moon back on a regular schedule between his victory in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes on Nov. 20 and his next scheduled start, the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 18. But the way he did it was noteworthy. Declan's Moon looked like he was in a common gallop, yet he was timed in 46.80 seconds, the best time of 29 at the distance.

"And he went out in 58 and change. It was effortless," said Russell Hudak, the track's official clocker, who timed the work.

Ellis and co-owner Samantha Siegel, who watched the work from the backside, each had a slower time on their watches, but their angle of the half-mile pole was difficult, and the finish line was obscured by the infield tote board.

"He was just galloping," Ellis said. "It looks like his last race did just what it was supposed to do. It tightened him up, but it didn't exhaust him. He struts around here like he didn't do anything. I was happy with his race. I've been happy with the way he's done since the race. I'm just happy."

Declan's Moon has won all three of his starts, including the Del Mar Futurity. He was kept out of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in order to await the fall meeting at Hollywood Park. Because he is a gelding, a try at the 2-year-old championship was not a priority. But after Wilko scored an upset in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the division became wide open.

With Declan's Moon, Wilko, and Champagne Stakes winner Proud Accolade all scheduled to run in the Hollywood Futurity, the race could very likely decide the 2-year-old championship.

"It's absolutely mind-boggling that we could be in the running for a championship, not having run in the Breeders' Cup," Siegel said as she watched Declan's Moon cool out after his work. "It's icing.

"The Del Mar Futurity was such a hard race," she added, "and you know how conservative Ron is. He also would have had to be supplemented to the Breeders' Cup, and $135,000 is a big check to write. If we treat him right, we'll have him around for a long time. We did the right thing for the horse."

Both Proud Accolade and Wilko had workouts on Monday. Proud Accolade sped five furlongs in 58.40 seconds, the best time of 31 at the distance, and Wilko covered six furlongs in 1:13.

Castledale on his way back

It was at last year's Autumn Turf Festival when Castledale first made headlines, winning the Generous Stakes. This spring, he scored an upset in the Santa Anita Derby. But he has been out of action since the Kentucky Derby.

Tuesday morning at Hollywood Park, Castledale breezed a half-mile in 47.40 seconds. It was his fourth workout since returning to training.

"That was his second half-mile work," said his trainer, Jeff Mullins. "We just waited for him to tell us when to go back to training."

Castledale would seem ideally suited to Santa Anita's three-race Strub Series, though making the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26 might be forcing the issue.

Double trouble for Frankel

Fresh off four victories in last week's Autumn Turf Festival, trainer Bobby Frankel will send out both License to Run and Megahertz in Saturday's Grade 1, $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup.

License to Run was a Group 1 winner in his native Brazil, where he won twice in three starts on turf, and won four times in eight starts overall. The Turf Cup will be his first start in this country. He has not raced since May 16.

"He's fit," Frankel said. "I've worked him three-quarters about five times. He should like firm turf. The only time he didn't run well on turf was on heavy ground."

Megahertz most recently finished 11th of 12 in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, which was her first start in five months. She will be ridden for the first time by Rene Douglas. Megahertz is one of two females who will run in the 1 1/2-mile Turf Cup. Trainer Jim Cassidy will run Moscow Burning, who was fourth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf after setting the early pace.

Others scheduled to run in the Turf Cup are Habaneros, Hatif, Pellegrino, and Puerto Banus.

* At Santa Anita on Tuesday morning, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner, Sweet Catomine, worked three furlongs in 36.20 seconds. There is a possibility she could race once more this year, in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet on Dec. 19. "I'm going to take a peek," said her trainer, Julio Canani.