05/19/2011 11:05AM

Hollywood Park: St Trinians seeks to regain form back on synthetic for Milady


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Before walking the plank against Blind Luck and Switch in the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap on June 18 at Hollywood Park, a jumbled cast of second-tier fillies and mares runs Saturday in the Vanity prep, the Grade 2 Milady Handicap.

The heartless description of St Trinians as second-tier comes on the heels of a futile winter at Santa Anita. Though she gave Zenyatta a scare last June when second in the Vanity, two poor dirt races by St. Trinians begs the question – is she still that good?

“She is, in my opinion,” trainer Mike Mitchell said. He reasons that synthetic specialist St Trinians simply did not care for the dirt track at Santa Anita. Her comeback Feb. 12 was a modest third at odds-on; her most recent start was a dull fourth March 12.

“I just don’t think she liked the dirt,” Mitchell said. “{Hollywood} is where she’s done so well, she’s training really well, and she looks great.”

St Trinians will try to regain top form Saturday as the 119-pound Milady top weight. She faces horse-for-course Washington Bridge and stretch-out Tanda in the $150,000 race at 1 1/16 miles. Others may include Church Camp, American Story, She’s Cheeky, and Makoma. Ultra Blend is more likely to run Sunday in the Fran’s Valentine, a turf stakes for statebreds.

St Trinians has won 7 of 15, and Mitchell is right that her best races have been on synthetic. She won her first four U.S. starts on synthetic, including the Grade 2 Santa Maria in 2010 at Santa Anita, prior to finishing second to Zenyatta in the 2010 Vanity.

Now 6, St Trinians starts for the first time in two months.

“It seems like it’s taken forever for this race to come up,” Mitchell said.

He expects her to fire.

“When she’s training good, she tells you. She’s a good tout,” he said.

Joe Talamo rides St Trinians.

Washington Bridge, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, also returns to preferred footing.

“She loves it here,” assistant trainer Dan Ward said. “She’s really happy here, and training well.”

Washington Bridge is 2 for 2 at Hollywood, including the Grade 2 Bayakoa last fall, but her muted winter campaign included two fourth-place finishes on dirt and turf.

Washington Bridge perked up slightly in her most recent start at Keeneland on April 22, when she finished third to Embur’s Song, who returned to win a Grade 3 at Woodbine. Washington Bridge has won 5 of 21.

Tanda enters the Milady with the most upside. The 4-year-old Tanda won the Grade 3 Railbird one year ago, and makes just her second start of 2011. She chipped an ankle finishing third last June in the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont; her 4-year-old campaign was postponed by foot issues. She finished fourth in her sprint comeback April 9.

“I’d like to have one more prep to go a mile and a sixteenth, but a classified race three weeks ago did not go,” trainer Dan Hendricks said. “Her last breeze was really nice, and we always planned on [stretching her out].”

Tanda has won 4 of eight.