06/08/2007 12:00AM

El Manuel must prove he's stakes worthy


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - El Manuel made up 18 lengths to win an allowance race over 6 1/2 furlongs in his U.S. debut at Hollywood Park on May 5, a performance greatly aided by a blistering early pace.

That sort of win could prompt some owners and trainers to immediately jump into stakes, but Gary Biszantz and trainer Mike Puype are taking a more conservative route. After considering Saturday's $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap, they have opted to enter the Chilean-bred El Manuel in an optional claimer over seven furlongs on Sunday.

Puype said he thinks running El Manuel in Sunday's sixth race, also open to second-level allowance horses, "is a better thing."

"He'll have to earn his way into the stakes," Puype said."I think he's a nice horse."

A winner of 6 of 9 starts and $46,118, El Manuel raced in minor handicaps in Chile last year, winning races from six furlongs to a mile. Sent off at 14-1 in his U.S. debut, he was helped by an early pace of 20.92 and 43.29 seconds. El Manuel was 14 lengths behind the leaders on the turn and rallied to win by 1 1/4 lengths.

The form of that allowance race has held up. Runner-up Only One Way and third-place finisher Le Copain have returned to win.

Sunday's race drew a field nine, including the stakes winners Dilemma and Your Tent or Mine, who are returning from layoffs.

Dilemma, 3, the winner of the Sunny Slope Stakes last October, has not started since November. Trainer Paddy Gallagher does not have high expectations for Sunday's race.

"He hasn't run for a while, and we've got to start him out somewhere," Gallagher said.

Your Tent or Mine won 2 of 3 starts in late 2005, including the Hollywood Prevue. Trained by Neil Drysdale, Your Tent or Mine, 4, has not started since finishing second to Brother Derek in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity in December 2005.

"He may need a run," Drysdale said.

Two intriguing first-time starters

A colt closely related to a champion and one that did not catch the fancy of the sale crowd earlier this year are among the first-time starters in Sunday's first race, a five-furlong maiden special weight race for 2-year-olds.

Dixie Chatter, a grandson of 1993 champion 2-year-old filly Phone Chatter, is one of seven first-time starters in the eight-horse field. Dixie Chatter is by Dixie Union and may not be best suited for Sunday's race, trainer Richard Mandella said.

"He might need a little further," Mandella said.

Numismatist, who drew the rail, was purchased for $72,000 as a weanling at the 2005 Keeneland November sale. He was offered at the Barretts March sale of 2-year-olds in training sale, but was bought back when bidding stalled at $40,000.

Numismatist is trained by Doug O'Neill and will be ridden by apprentice jockey Joe Talamo.

"They had an X reserve and he went way below X," O'Neill said. "He's very professional and seems quick."

O'Neill also starts the Dixieland Band colt Dixieland Easy, but is not as enthusiastic about that colt's chances. "He's not a five-furlong specialist, from what I can see," O'Neill said. "I think he's going to want a lot more ground."

Trainer John Sadler starts Castle Knock, a Dixie Union colt purchased for $190,000 as a yearling at Keeneland last September.

"I think he'll be competitive," Sadler said.

Sadler said that Castle Knock has been working with Tasha's Miracle, who ran second in her career debut on June 2.

High Cholesterol tries to extend Lobo's hot hand

The hottest trainer at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting is Paulo Lobo, who has won with 10 of his first 22 starters, or 45 percent. No other trainer in the top 10 has a winning percentage as high as Lobo's.

Lobo's latest winner from his 28-horse stable came on Thursday when Kneeling Pride ($29.80) won a maiden claimer. Lobo has won four maiden claiming races at this meeting.

Sunday, he is aiming quite a bit higher when High Cholesterol starts in the $150,000 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks over 1 1/16 miles.

High Cholesterol has won 2 of 8 starts and began her career by winning a maiden claimer last July. She later finished third in the Moccasin Stakes and seventh in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet last December.

In three starts this year, High Cholesterol is winless, with her best finish a fourth in the Grade 3 Railbird Stakes here on May 13. Despite those modest results, Lobo hopes that she can run well on Sunday.

"The Starlet took so much out of her," he said. "Now, I think she's getting back. She likes the Cushion Track."

Lobo's leading horses are bound for major stakes on June 30 - Molengao will start in the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup over 1 1/4 miles on the main track and Right Special will start in the $250,000 American Handicap over

1 1/8 miles on turf.

Molengao won the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap on May 5. He breezed six furlongs in 1:14.80 on Friday, the 13th fastest of 16 recorded works at the distance.

The American Handicap field will include The Tin Man, the 9-year-old who won the Grade 1 Shoemaker BC Mile on May 28, trainer Richard Mandella said.

Mandella had considered starting The Tin Man in the Gold Cup, but is sticking with turf.

"I thought about it a little bit, but I don't want to mess things up," Mandella said.

The Tin Man has won 13 of 28 starts and earned $3,365,780.

* Jockey Martin Garcia did not ride on Thursday or Friday after suffering a strained knee ligament in the paddock before Wednesday's eighth race. A winner of 10 races from 123 mounts at this meeting, Garcia ranked 12th in the jockey standings through Thursday. He is booked to ride on Sunday.