06/19/2005 11:00PM

Hollendorfer loses little faith in Cause to Believe

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ALBANY, Calif. - Although trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was willing to give first-timer Cousins Lew credit for winning the $75,000 Malcolm Anderson at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday, he won't be trying to work a trade with winning trainer Brian Koriner any time soon. Hollendorfer was pretty impressed with the colt he saddled, Cause to Believe, who finished second.

Jockey Dennis Carr said Cause to Believe threw his head and fell back when he was struck in the face by dirt in the five-furlong race for 2-year-olds. Cousins Lew defeated Cause to Believe by three-quarters of a length, but Cause to Believe made up more than five lengths in the final eighth.

"The way he closed down the lane, I thought he showed as quick a turn of foot as any horse I've ever had," Hollendorfer said. "I wouldn't be afraid to run against [Cousins Lew] again."

"We spotted them too much," Carr said. Then, referring to Cousins Lew and Cause to Believe, Carr said, "I still think they're in two different leagues."

Cause to Believe had won his previous start, taking a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race at Golden Gate and earning a 78 Beyer Speed Figure.

Cousins Lew did exactly what Koriner expected by winning, but the trainer said he thought his colt would win more easily.

"This is the first time he's ever had to run hard," said Koriner of Cousins Lew, who worked a bullet half-mile in 46.80 on June 12.

Koriner said he will probably send Cousins Lew to Del Mar for his next start.

Age just a number for these two

What jockey Eddie Howard and the mule Black Ruby lack in youth they make up for in experience. Howard, who will only admit to being over 50, and

13-year-old Black Ruby have combined for a win and a pair of seconds in three starts this year.

Black Ruby, for years the top racing mule in the region, was nearly retired last year after a disappointing, injury-plagued season. But a lot of TLC over the winter by owners Sonny and Mary McPherson has revived her.

And the chance to ride Black Ruby has revived Howard, the oldest rider on the fair circuit, who jokes that he's so old he has only six digits on his Social Security card.

"They made a lot of the fact at Winnemucca she won a race and was the oldest mule, and I was the oldest rider," Howard said.

Howard has seen a lot of Black Ruby over the years - mostly her behind. Among the other mules he has ridden is Black Ruby's former arch-rival, Taz. He also has ridden Sarah Nelson, who emerged last year as Ruby's would-be successor.

"When I rode Sarah Nelson, she ran spotty and was a little green," Howard said. "Sarah Nelson is young and coming up. It's hard to tell how good she could get, but both she and Ruby are nice mules. I don't think either one can make a mistake and beat the other."

Tohill makes annual trip

As he has the past several years, Ken Tohill is using the Stockton meet to get the 50 California mounts a jockey needs to maintain his health insurance in the state. Tohill is riding regularly at the meet, with side trips to New Mexico, where he rides for most of the year. He may also take a few mounts at the Alameda County Fair, which begins next Wednesday in his hometown of Pleasanton.

Tohill rode in northern California with moderate success before moving his tack to New Mexico several years ago, a move that reinvigorated his career. He won the Sunland Park riding title this year with 110 victories, more winners than the second- and third-place finishers combined.

Entry box hits doldrums

The Stockton meet began strongly in the entry department, but has flattened out. Thoroughbred races averaged better than eight runners for the first four days of the meet - last Wednesday through Saturday - but the average slipped to 6.8 on Sunday, when only six races could be filled instead of the normal seven. The average returned to eight for Wednesday but drops to 6.4 for the Thursday card.

Stockton racing secretary Bob Moreno says the pattern is typical, and he expects a strong finish to the meet, which ends Sunday.

New talent gets a shot

College student Jonathan Horowitz called the fourth race at Golden Gate Fields on Sunday's closing day.

Michael Wrona, the Golden Gate race caller, met Horowitz, 20, six years ago and has become the young man's mentor. Golden Gate is the 16th track where Horowitz has called a race.

"This is the prettiest track," said Horowitz, who will be a junior at USC this fall.

Horowitz said his most unusual race call was of a two-mile Arabian race in England.

"I stopped in the middle for a cup of tea," he said.

* Trainer John F. Martin was fined $1,000 after McManus, winner of Friday's seventh race at Golden Gate Fields, tested in excess of the permitted level of phenylbutazone.