05/11/2010 12:00AM

Elusive Memories tries U.S. turf


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - An influx of foreign imports is showing up in races this week at Hollywood Park, including two principal starters Thursday.

Elusive Memories, a lightly raced filly from New Zealand, makes her U.S. debut for trainer John Sadler in a six-furlong turf allowance that is race 7. Fantando, a maiden from England, makes his U.S. debut for trainer Mike Mitchell in race 8.

Both imports are qualified to win as the weeklong "new-shooter" theme continues. The imported Red Eye Express was entered in race 7 on Wednesday; the imported Scintillo is the 118-pound topweight Saturday in the Grade 2 Jim Murray Handicap.

Questions always surround imports. Is the horse good enough? Has the stable had success in similar situations? And, is the competition above or below par?

Elusive Memories was good in New Zealand, where she won 1 of 4 and raced twice against top company in Group 2 and 3 races. Runner-up by a nose in her December 2008 debut, she scored by a half-length in a maiden race two weeks later.

Raised to a Group 3 off the maiden win, Elusive Memories lost her chance before the race when she flipped over and fell. She was examined by the veterinarian and cleared to run. Despite the incident, she finished a close sixth, missing by 1 1/2 lengths.

Two weeks later, and less than two months from her debut, Elusive Memories was raised again to try a Group 2 at 1 1/4 miles. She finished 12th of 16. That February 2009 race was her final start Down Under.

Joe Talamo rides Elusive Memories, whose record suggests she is good enough to win a first-level allowance. Furthermore, Sadler has scored with similar New Zealand imports - Angus, Belmont Cat, Black Mamba, and Crossing the Line all won first out in the United States.

Finally, the competition Elusive Memories faces Thursday is ordinary and includes Surfer Girl, runner-up April 21 in a similar spot. An import from Brazil, Surfer Girl has lost four local races at the first condition. The filly that beat Surfer Girl last time, Brookie Girl, is a contender Thursday in race 5.

In race 8 on Thursday, Fantando makes his U.S. debut in a $25,000 maiden claimer. Trainer Mike Mitchell won once already this meet with a maiden import (Seventh Star on May 1). Rafael Bejarano rides Fantando.