06/30/2006 11:00PM

'Hood' fast out of gate


PLEASANTON, Calif. - Monday's feature at the Alameda County Fair, a first-level allowance sprint for 3-year-olds, could be a stakes race. Among the seven in the six-furlong race are Mid-

westerner and Wilmore, who are stakes-placed and have met the best of their generation in these parts. But they may not have faced a horse as fast as Monday rival Hollywood Hood.

Trainer Michael Lenzini said Hollywood Hood is the fastest horse out of the gate that he has ever trained.

"I've never had a horse come out of the gate like he does," Lenzini said. "The gate opens, and he's two lengths in front. It's just natural. He's a little swaybacked. Maybe that helps him get out of the gate."

Hollywood Hood hasn't faced Smokey Stover, Frisco Star, Barber, Bold Chieftain, and Point Determined, as Midwesterner and Wilmore have. But Midwesterner and Wilmore haven't faced a runner quite as quick as Hollywood Hood.

After bucking his shins in his 2-year-old debut, Hollywood Hood went to the sidelines for a year.

Lenzini snuck him into a $20,000 maiden claimer for his comeback. "I knew he wouldn't be claimed, and I wanted to get him eligible for the starter allowance race," Lenzini said.

Hollywood Hood won by 13, then won the starter allowance by three. He fought off several challenges against older in his first allowance start before being surprised at the wire by Helms Press, who rallied along the outside where Hollywood Hood might not have seen him.

Wilmore's trainer, Bill Morey Jr., concedes that his horse doesn't have Hollywood Hood's kind of speed, but still expects him to run a good race.

"If he pays attention, he'll be right there," said Morey.

* During the day, jockeys will be available for pictures and autographs between races in the paddock.