06/09/2008 11:00PM

Fassnacht has had busy spring


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - A sprint for California-bred 2-year-old maidens offers the most intriguing matchup on the Thursday card at Hollywood Park.

The obvious choices in race 8 are trouble-prone Fassnacht, making his third start in five weeks, and fast-working first-time starter Triumphant Flight. Nine entered the five-furlong race; Fassnacht and Triumphant Flight will attract most of the action.

Triumphant Flight has a series of bullet workouts and is out of a dam who has produced three stakes winners, but in 2-year-old maiden races, experience usually wins out. The question facing Fassnacht is whether he can withstand his ambitious spring campaign.

"He's a very high-energy horse," trainer Mike Harrington said. "He doesn't act like his races take anything out of him. Some horses you can't run very often, but this horse you probably could run once a week."

Or close to it. A gelding by Johannesburg, Fassnacht was blocked through the drive in his May 8 debut and finished third by 1 1/4 lengths. Harrington wheeled him back 17 days later in the Willard Proctor Stakes, and Fassnacht had another unlucky trip. He stumbled at the start, broke slowly, steadied in midstretch, and finished third by eight lengths.

The fourth-place Proctor finisher was Harrington's well-regarded Jack Flash, a debut winner via disqualification.

Harrington said the fact that Fassnacht beat Jack Flash told him Fassnacht "is a pretty damn good horse," but he added that Fassnacht would prefer farther than five furlongs.

At least he has an experience edge over Triumphant Flight, whose fast works and stakes-laden family tree suggest trainer Eric Kruljac will have fun this summer with this son of Chullo. Triumphant Flight is a half-brother to stakes winners Jet West, Jetinto Houston, and Jetin Excess.

"He's worked fast, and done it relatively within himself," Kruljac said. "We're guardedly optimistic about his future. I know he has ability, but I don't want to fry him first time out."

Kruljac admits that with 2-year-olds, winning first time out is never a priority.

"I don't think my statistics with first-start babies are very strong," he said. "I'm more concerned with a positive experience."

The past five years, Kruljac is 1 for 32 with debut 2-year-olds.

Seven others entered. Speaking added blinkers in his second start, flashed improved speed, and finished third. Others in the field include the Jeff Mullins-trained Tiz Again Roused, a big, tall son of Tiznow who may want longer. Papoose La Moose, Tudor Blue, Mendota Bay, Island Run, and Podger also are in the field.