06/30/2009 12:00AM

English import has star potential


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - A weekday program in Brighton, England, is not the first place scouts look for a Del Mar stakes prospect.

Cleisthenes, who makes his American debut at Hollywood Park on Thursday, may be the exception. A Kentucky-bred by Pleasantly Perfect, Cleisthenes dusted seven rivals in a six-furlong maiden race on May 12, setting off a rapid chain of events that led to him being acquired privately by Michael Talla and winding up in trainer John Sadler's Hollywood Park stable a few weeks later.

In Thursday's seventh race, an optional claimer over a mile on turf, Cleisthenes will be tested in advance of a potential start in the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar July 22.

Not only is Thursday's race Cleisthenes's first start in the United States and first start against winners, but it comes against several promising 3-year-olds who could also appear in the Oceanside.

Sadler is undeterred. He has trained Cleisthenes for nearly a month, and thinks the gelding is genuine.

"We like him a lot," Sadler said. "This is not going to be a secret. He's breezed really nicely."

Previously trained by William Haggas, Cleisthenes was purchased for $25,000 at the 2007 Keeneland September yearling sale. The six-length win at Brighton is his only start.

The purchase price to get him to the United States was not disclosed, Sadler said.

"You would say he's an expensive gelding," Sadler said. "He looks good, but he's got to go out there and do it."

Cleisthenes is part of a field of 10 that includes the multiple stakes winner Backbackbackgone, entered for an $80,000 claiming price, and the recent maiden race winners Fort Sumter, Gretsky, I'll Show Them, Margarita Shot, and Savu.

Savu, trained by Neil Drysdale, won a maiden race over 1 1/16 miles on June 20 despite racing wide throughout. Savu is by Storm Cat, out of Fiji, the 1998 champion female turf horse.

Rainbow Goose was a troubled second in an optional claimer June 11, his first start in California and first start for trainer Jack Carava. Rainbow Goose was away slowly and ran wide on the final turn.

Carava is considering the Oceanside Stakes for Rainbow Goose "if he comes back and everything looks good."