11/28/2006 12:00AM

First-timer has right family ties


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Cindy Olsen and Jack Retzloff are hoping for lightning to strike again when their homebred Mr. Hold'em makes his debut in a six-furlong maiden race Thursday at Bay Meadows.

Mr. Hold'em is related to their best horse, Mr. Doubledown, a winner of nine stakes, including the Grade 3 Hollywood Turf Express, and $738,692. Mr. Doubledown won his debut.

Jeff Bonde, who trained Mr. Doubledown, and Roberto Gonzalez, Mr. Doubledown's regular rider, team up with Mr. Hold'em.

"He's worked well, and I expect him to run well," Bonde said.

Though a February foal, Mr. Hold'em is making his debut late in his 3-year-old year.

"He had shin problems as a 2-year-old," Bonde said of Mr. Hold'em, a son of With Approval. "And most of his sire's runners are late developing, so we saw no need to rush him."

Mr. Hold'em's dam is Keno, whose granddam is Madame Gold, the dam of Mr. Doubledown. Mr. Hold'em is the first foal for Keno, who lost her lone start.

"They're hoping he does something," said Bonde of Olsen and Retzloff, "because he's related to the best horse they ever had."

Mr. Doubledown had 14 victories, 5 seconds and 4 thirds from 30 starts.

Mr. Hold'em will have his work cut out for him. He has worked on a steady basis for three months, including a six-furlong bullet drill in 1:12.20 on Nov. 12 and a 36.80 three-furlong gate drill 10 days later.

His sire, With Approval, earned over $2 million, and as a sire is 39 for 513 with debut runners, a win percentage of about 8.

Diamonds N Dreams will be Mr. Hold'em's biggest threat. He was a well-beaten fourth to Show Me Your Money in his debut Sept. 29. But he has a series of strong works since then, including a 1:11.80 six-furlong bullet on Nov. 19 at Golden Gate Fields. Diamonds N Dreams's trainer, Steve Specht, wins at a rate of 25 percent with horses coming back off a short layoff.

First-timer Royal Robert, a half-brother of three stakes winners, is also in the field of five, drawn in post 4, just outside Diamonds N Dreams and Mr. Hold'em. He, too, has worked nicely, although he has not officially worked in three weeks.

Uncanny Yodel and Calm Cool Vonflue round out the field.