07/25/2006 11:00PM

Hollendorfer off to hot start


DEL MAR, Calif. - Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, best known for his dominant role in northern California, has won three races from his first five starters at Del Mar this summer.

Most trainers would be elated with those results. When asked about the start of his meeting on Wednesday, Hollendorfer did not seem that thrilled.

"We started off okay," he said. "Everybody likes to win, and win on a regular basis."

Considering Hollendorfer's record at this meeting in recent years, he is having an outstanding meeting. Last year, Hollendorfer had one winner from 17 starts. In 2004, he was winless with nine starters.

This year, Hollendorfer has a 20-horse stable that will be active in several stakes. Saturday, he runs Secret Scheme in the $150,000 San Clemente Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at a mile on turf. Sunday, Trickey Trevor starts in the Grade 1, $300,000 Bing Crosby Handicap at six furlongs.

Secret Scheme is making her stakes debut and her sixth start. Owned by Hollendorfer and George Todaro, Secret Scheme has won four of five starts, including a 16-length victory in an optional claimer at Bay Meadows on June 18. In her only start on turf, she won an optional claimer at Bay Meadows in May by three-quarters of a length.

"She's been improving," Hollendor-fer said. "I don't know if she prefers the dirt. This is the race we've been pointing for."

Trickey Trevor has shown erratic form in five starts this year, finishing first, second, sixth, seventh, and ninth.

Claimed for $62,500 at Santa Anita in January 2005, Trickey Trevor, 7, has won six of 14 races since being claimed. His lone win this year came in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap on May 6, but he was ninth as the 3-1 favorite in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 2.

"I think he threw in a bad race," Hollendorfer said. "I don't have an excuse or answers for that."

Hollendorfer said that Corey Nakatani will replace Russell Baze on Trickey Trevor in the Bing Crosby. Baze is riding at the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa this weekend.

Later in the meeting, Hollendorfer has two major contenders in lucrative stakes. Somethinaboutlaura, who won the A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 1, is being pointed for the $200,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap for fillies and mares on Aug. 18.

Ace Blue, second by a nose to Lava Man in the Hollywood Gold Cup earlier this month, will start in the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 20.

'Charming' will await Oaks

Charming N Lovable, the winner of the Flawlessly Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 2, is unlikely to start in the San Clemente. Trainer Paddy Gallagher said she will be pointed for the $400,000 Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 19, the top race for 3-year-old fillies at this meeting.

"She's not a big robust filly," Gallagher said. "I'd like to try the Oaks. Maybe we'll just wait."

Charming N Lovable has won her last three starts, beginning with a maiden race at Santa Anita in April.

She's an Eleven, the winner of the Melair Stakes at Hollywood Park in April, will miss the San Clemente because of an injury, the nature of which trainer John Sadler did not disclose.

"She's just not right," he said.

She's an Eleven will spend 90 days on a local farm before rejoining Sadler's stable. He intends to start her at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting.

She's an Eleven was fourth in the Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks on June 11 in her most recent start.

Two injured horses recuperating

Simply Because and Thinking Broadway, who were injured in the first week here while training and racing, each recently underwent successful surgery, their respective trainers said.

Simply Because, who won the CERF Handicap here last summer, underwent surgery earlier this week at the San Luis Rey Equine Clinic to stabilize sesamoid injuries, trainer David Hofmans said. She has been retired and will remain at the clinic through August, he said.

"Hopefully, she'll be able to start her new career" as a broodmare, Hofmans said. "There is always the danger of founder. That's why they want to keep her at the clinic."

Simply Because was injured during a gallop on July 21.

Thinking Broadway underwent surgery at the Chino Valley Equine Clinic to have stabilizing screws inserted in her rear hind leg. Her trainer, Gallagher, speculates that she was kicked during the running of a turf race on July 20.

Gallagher said Thinking Broadway could be released from the hospital this weekend.

Pat O'Brien target for Declan's Moon

Although Declan's Moon was nominated to the Bing Crosby, trainer Ron Ellis never really had any intention of running him in that spot, preferring to await the Grade 2, $300,000 Pat O'Brien BC Handicap on Aug. 20.

Ellis is maintaining a go-slow approach with much of his barn this summer. Declan's Moon, the champion 2-year-old male of 2004 who

recently returned to action, and Buzzards Bay, the winner of the Oaklawn Handicap earlier this year, both did not have their first local works until Tuesday, when they each went an easy half-mile.

Ellis, like many trainers here, is not satisfied with the condition of the Del Mar main track.

"It packs in their feet and balls up in there," Ellis said. To illustrate, he picked up the front feet of a horse who was leaving the track. Neither frog could be seen under the dark brown dirt, and Ellis had to pick out the material with a key.

Del Mar officials have said they will gradually add sand to the surface, beginning this week.

More tests for Valenzuela

Patrick Valenzuela, who through his agent, Tom Knust, has said he is suffering from back problems, was given two additional drug tests at his home last week by California Horse Racing Board investigators, and passed both, according to Mike Marten, a board spokesman.

Valenzuela initially was tested at his home on July 19, opening day of the meet, then was tested the next two days as well, according to Marten.

"They were all negative," he said.

According to Marten and Del Mar's stewards, Valenzuela will not be permitted to ride again until he brings a doctor's statement. According to Knust, Valenzuela is going to have back surgery and may possibly have minor work done on a knee, too.

Valenzuela has had a lengthy

history of drug problems. Asked if he believes the back and knee troubles are the only issues currently facing Valenzuela, Knust said, "Based on what Patrick has told me, yes.

"I can understand why some people might be skeptical, and based on Patrick's history, they have a right to be, but his back and knee have both been bothering him."

Knust has also represented Corey Nakatani since the start of the meet.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman