11/12/2004 1:00AM

Futurity, Starlet hopefuls gear up

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EQUI-PHOTOS
Cajun Beat, who has had a successful career as a sprinter, may give route races a try, said trainer Bobby Frankel.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - It's next weekend when Hollywood Park is running its two stakes preps for the Hollywood Futurity and Hollywood Starlet. But this weekend holds significant interest, too, since several promising horses with designs on those season-ending 2-year-old stakes will compete in a pair of allowance races on Sunday's card.

In Sunday's second race, Oak Leaf Stakes runner-up Splendid Blended heads a field of six fillies pointing for the Grade 1 Starlet on Dec. 19. In the fourth race, the exciting maiden winner Giacomo meets California Cup Juvenile winner Texcess in a prep for the Grade 1 Futurity on Dec. 18.

Both of Sunday's races are at 1 1/16 miles, the same distance as the Futurity and the Starlet.

Trainer Neil Drysdale purposely kept Splendid Blended out of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies after she finished second to Sweet Catomine in the Oak Leaf. The Oak Leaf was only her second start, and her inexperience betrayed her.

"I thought she ran well," Drysdale said at his Hollywood Park barn Friday morning. "She was green. She got in trouble on the first turn and got carried wide. She gave up a lot of ground, but she kept to her task when Sweet Catomine went past her.

"I was very impressed with Sweet Catomine even before that race, when I saw her in the paddock," he said. "She had come on well since Del Mar. We did the right thing by not going to the Breeders' Cup. She might need this race, too. If she runs well Sunday she'll continue on to the Starlet."

Kent Desormeaux rides Splendid Blended. Her challengers include Home Ice, who finished third in the Cal Cup Juvenile Fillies last time out.

Giacomo was a powerful winner against maidens at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting last month, when he scored by 10 lengths in his first try around two turns while utilizing a late kick indicative of a colt who will not have distance limitations.

Giacomo had raced once in July at Hollywood Park and finished fifth in a sprint. He did not resurface until three months later, when he stretched out to 1 1/16 miles.

"We knew he'd like two turns," said trainer John Shirreffs. "His first race, we knew that wasn't the ideal spot, but it was better to run him than to wait until they had races going two turns. At least he got something out of it.

"We went to Del Mar to run, but the track there puts you a month behind with your 2-year-olds. It was a deep, loose track. He came back blowing from his works like a freight train. So, forget that."

Shirreffs said he decided to wait for Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting. The wait was worth it, because Giacomo turned in an eye-catching performance.

"He's taken to racing well," Shirreffs said of Giacomo, a son of Holy Bull. "He's had the same demeanor all along."

Giacomo will be tested by Texcess, a long-striding In Excess gelding who was an impressive winner of the Cal Cup Juvenile in only his second lifetime start. There are three others in the race, including Chips Are Down, who finished second as the favorite in the Sunny Slope Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 23. Sunday's race will be his first going two turns.

Surgery for Straightandstrong

Straightandstrong, a 2-year-old gelding, was about to be loaded into the starting gate for Thursday's sixth race at 1 1/16 miles when he got loose, ran the wrong way up the stretch, and ran straight into a fence near the quarter pole. In doing so, he opened a large gash on his chest that required surgery.

"He cut himself open on his chest, right between his legs," said trainer David Hofmans. "It's about 18 inches long. He just tore himself open. The vet said he could stick his hand right up in there."

Straightandstrong was scheduled to have surgery at the San Luis Rey Equine Hospital in Bonsall, Calif.

"It looks like he'll be all right," Hofmans said. "It's just going to take some time."

Saint Cali, a Saint Ballado colt who won Thursday's sixth race, will probably come back in an allowance race, trainer Eoin Harty said.

"I thought he showed a lot of gameness," Harty said. "He didn't run particularly fast, but he ran well and galloped out strongly. He's a galloper. He doesn't look like he'll have any distance limitation."

Cajun Beat may go long

Ghostzapper was a brilliant sprinter who was even better going long. Now, trainer Bobby Frankel says he is thinking of experimenting with a route race for Cajun Beat, the 2003 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner. Cajun Beat worked four furlongs in 47.40 seconds Friday morning at Hollywood Park.

"He likes the tracks out here," Frankel said. "I'm going to run him long. I'm not sure where yet, though. The purses here are too small. I don't want to pick up weight off races for no money."

* Hofmans said that Adoration, the recently retired winner of the 2003 Breeders' Cup Distaff, would be bred to Empire Maker next spring.

* The top 3-year-old filly Yearly Report, who recently won the Stonerside Stakes at Lone Star Park, worked three furlongs in 35.60 seconds on Friday morning at Santa Anita for trainer Bob Baffert.

* Jockey agent Corey Black said that jockey Mike Smith will be able to leave Tokyo right after the Japan Cup Dirt on Nov. 28 and, through the magic of the International Date Line, arrive in time to ride that day's Hollywood Park card, which includes the Grade 1 Matriarch and Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. Smith will be aboard Total Impact in the Japan Cup Dirt.