06/26/2001 11:00PM

Elaborate has yet to regain big kick


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Elaborate may be the defending champion of Sunday's $300,000 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park, but he will largely be ignored this weekend.

With the presence of the international sprint star Caller One and the exciting 3-year-old Squirtle Squirt, Elaborate's backers will get a good price in the seven-furlong Triple Bend.

In the last eight months, Elaborate has recovered from a severe illness to return to the races. Since the start of the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting, the 6-year-old Elaborate has won an allowance race and finished a dull third in the Ack Ack Stakes on June 6.

Trainer Paco Gonzalez is not concerned about Elaborate's last race, saying the gelding was too close to a quick pace. That will not be a problem Sunday with Caller One - who has won the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai and the Los Angeles Handicap in the last two starts - and the multiple stakes winner Squirtle Squirt in the lineup.

"I think he ran a good race, but he was too close and didn't have his punch," Gonzalez said. "It's better if he comes off the pace. There will be a lot of speed this time. Caller One is the one to beat."

Elaborate spiked a temperature of 105 after finishing 11th in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs. It took him several weeks before he was well enough to travel to California.

Longshot Power Wing uncertain for Gold Cup

The Triple Bend is one of four stakes on Sunday, a program led by the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup.

The other stakes are the $250,000 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap for 3-year-old fillies on turf and the $200,000 A Gleam Handicap over seven furlongs for fillies and mares.

Power Wing, the former claimer who will make his stakes debut in the Gold Cup, worked a half-mile in 48.80 seconds Wednesday.

Trainer Ahmad Salih said he was concerned about the way Power Wing finished the workout and intended to would wait until entries were drawn Thursday, before finalizing plans. He indicated he was leaning toward entering.

"He didn't fight at the end," Salih said. "I'm a little concerned. I don't know if it's good or bad."

Power Wing and Futural, the runner-up in the Californian Stakes on June 10, were supplemented to the Gold Cup for $12,500 on June 17. Those two face Captain Steve, the winner of the Dubai World Cup, and Skimming and Aptitude, who were first and third, respectively, in the Californian. Skimming and Aptitude are owned by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Bobby Frankel.

Salih claimed Power Wing for $16,000 in March 2000, but did not start him for 13 months due to a series of foot ailments, primarily an abscess. Since his return, Power Wing has made five starts this year, including a win in a $25,000 claimer on May 13. On June 13, he finished a game second to Figlio Mio in an allowance race over seven furlongs.

"I know he'll fight all the way to the end," Salih said. "But we're in with the big guns. It's a different ballgame."

Beverly D next for Astra

Astra, a four-length winner of the Grade 1 Beverly Hills Handicap last Sunday, will make her next start in the $700,000 Beverly D Stakes at Arlington Park on Aug. 18, trainer Simon Bray said.

There is a chance it could be her final start before the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Belmont Park on Oct. 27.

"If she wins, she'll go straight to the Breeders' Cup," Bray said.

The Beverly Hills was Astra's first start since winning the Santa Barbara Handicap at Santa Anita on April 14. Previously, she had been off since last summer.

Kent Desormeaux rode Astra in Sunday's Beverly Hills and then traveled back to Japan, where he won the Group 1 Teio Sho at Oi Racecourse on Wednesday aboard Makiba Sniper. The race paid $800,000 to the winner. Desormeaux also had mounts in Japan on Thursday and Friday and has six rides at Hollywood Park on Friday.

Minor injury to Collect Call

A twisted ankle will keep Collect Call, the third-place finisher in the Kentucky Oaks, from starting in the Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Trainer Christopher Paasch said Collect Call underwent precautionary X-rays earlier this week, but came back clean. "There was some filling in that ankle," he said Wednesday. "She's fine now. She went back to the track this morning."

Paasch said Collect Call will be pointed for the Hollywood Oaks on July 14, pending a workout this weekend.