06/03/2002 12:00AM

Hot Market will be hot-rodding


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - There is no doubt regarding the tactics that Hot Market will use in Wednesday's second race at Hollywood Park.

The 4-year-old Hot Market will be on the lead in a $55,000 allowance race over 1 1/16 miles under jockey Jose Valdivia Jr.

"If anyone wants to take us on, they're welcome to try," trainer Craig Lewis said.

The style worked in an eye-catching win at Santa Anita on April 6, but failed when Hot Market was third at Hollywood Park on May 8 behind Palmeiro and Mysterious Cat. Sent off at 4-1 that day, Hot Market led to the final turn, but lost by 2 1/2 lengths.

"I thought Palmeiro ran a freakish race and that he's a good horse," Lewis said. "I wanted to win, but I thought our horse acquitted himself well."

While Palmeiro is being pointed for Saturday's All American Handicap at Bay Meadows, Hot Market must again contend with Mysterious Cat, who finished second in the Grade 2 San Bernardino Handicap at Santa Anita on April 6.

Tactically, Hot Market may have an advantage. He is the lone speed in the field of five and does well when allowed to roll alone on the lead. On May 8, he was pressured early by Palmeiro, who was always within a half-length. On April 6, Hot Market led by a length on the backstretch, scooted clear by two lengths on the final turn, and won by a length.

Lewis does fear that Hot Market may prefer Santa Anita, where he has recorded all three of his career wins.

"I think he likes a little livelier track," Lewis said. "He likes to hear his feet rattle."

Aside from Mysterious Cat, Hot Market faces Jimmy Z, Kela, and Prized Gem, all of whom will be longer prices.

Jimmy Z is winless in his last 11 starts, dating back to an allowance race at Del Mar in September 2000. Trained by Ron McAnally, Jimmy Z was third in the Grade 2 Strub Stakes in 2001, but tends to run second or third in races at this allowance level.

Kela has been favored in all five of his starts, including a fourth-place finish at Santa Anita in a one-mile allowance race on April 7, his 2002 debut. Trained by Eduardo Inda, Kela could be close to Hot Market early.

Prized Gem is an outsider who lacks early speed. He won an allowance race on May 3 at 7-1, his first victory since a maiden race at Santa Anita last fall.

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