05/08/2002 12:00AM

Finally back to his lucky oval


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - A year ago, very little was going right for Royal Ambition. In February 2001, he clipped heels and fell in a race in Dubai. Three months later, he was disqualified from second to third in a maiden race at Hollywood Park.

The highlight of the year was a win in an allowance race at Hollywood Park in July, even though Royal Ambition was still eligible for a maiden race at the time.

Friday night, the 4-year-old Royal Ambition returns to the site of his victory in a $51,000 allowance race over 1 1/16 miles on turf, facing six others.

The competition includes shippers from Europe, Kentucky, and northern California as well as a battle-tested ex-claimer.

Royal Ambition has made four starts since last July, finishing fifth in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Handicap at Saratoga, sixth in the Del Mar Derby, and unplaced in two allowance races. Most recently, he was fourth in an allowance race at Bay Meadows, a start that did not discourage trainer Tim Pinfield.

"I was quite pleased with the way he ran," Pinfield said. "They went very quick and it turned out to be a nice sort of a race. He had to take back and circle the field and he was running on."

The likely favorite on Friday is Dance Dreamer, a 4-year-old Nureyev colt who previously raced in France. Now trained by Bobby Frankel, Dance Dreamer has not started since last September.

A winner of 1 of 4 starts, he scored his lone victory in an allowance race over about 1 1/4 miles on turf at Chantilly last June.

Lord Sweeney and Top Honours can win with their best efforts.

Lord Sweeney won three consecutive races at Santa Anita for claiming prices ranging from $50,000 to $62,500. He was claimed on March 16 by owner Art Acosta and trainer Frank Olivares and makes his third start for them on Friday. The 5-year-old Lord Sweeney was beaten a length at Bay Meadows on April 6 and was third, beaten five lengths, on April 21.

Top Honours has raced sporadically since winning a maiden race in his second start last September. Trained by Laura de Seroux, he was second in an allowance race at Oak Tree last fall and fourth at Santa Anita on Jan. 12.

Monsignor Casale and Tiptronic will be longshots. The allowance race is the seventh on an eight-race program that begins at 7:05 p.m.

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