08/06/2004 11:00PM

'House' tries to avoid trouble


DEL MAR, Calif. - Head of the House and Spencer's Magic were dueling through the stretch of a turf sprint at Hollywood Park last month when Spencer's Magic inexplicably ducked inward and unseated jockey Alex Bisono.

The incident in the July 14 race affected Head of the House, who was bumped hard by a rival, appeared to lose his momentum, and finished three-quarters of a length behind the winner, McManus.

Monday at Del Mar, meet again in a $54,000 optional claimer at five furlongs on turf for statebreds.

Trainer Paco Gonzalez, whose stable has struggled this year, going winless in 35 starts, is hoping that Head of the House can collect his second career win.

"If the other horse didn't bump him, I would have won," Gonzalez said. "He lost a little balance."

Spencer's Magic was the 1-2 favorite on July 14 but will be a much higher price on Monday. Bisono has been replaced by Matt Garcia. Some bettors will steer clear of Spencer's Magic after seeing his erratic behavior.

The field will be limited to eight starters because of the narrow turf course.

Both Spencer's Magic and Head of the House appear to run best as stalkers and should have ample pace to follow. Award Winning Team and Gallop Fat Boys, the first two finishers of a $20,000 claiming race at Hollywood Park on

July 16, and Steel Cutlass, unraced since April, have shown speed. All three are seeking their first wins on turf.

Spencer's Magic is the only member of the field with a turf win. Trained by Barry Abrams for a partnership, Spencer's Magic has made four starts and won once, in a maiden race over 5 1/2 furlongs on turf at Hollywood Park on May 30. Prior to the July 14 race he finished a game second in a turf sprint against open company.

, who placed in two turf sprints for claimers at Hollywood Park, is another stalker with a leading chance.

Head of the House was the first winner for the late stallion Free House when he won a maiden race for 2-year-olds at Hollywood Park in July 2003. Owned by John Toffan, Head of the House was injured after that race and did not start again until March of this year.

The troubled second in the July 14 race was his fifth start of 2004.

"He came out of the race fine," Gonzalez said. "I think five furlongs will be all right."