11/08/2007 12:00AM

Hucking Hot ventures into Kenis

EmailINGLEWOOD, Calif. - Trouble just seems to find Hucking Hot, a filly who starts in Saturday's $65,000 Audrey Skirball Kenis Stakes at Hollywood Park.

She beat maidens in England despite nearly falling in June 2006. She threw a tantrum before the start of the Hidden Light Stakes at Santa Anita in October 2006 and still won. In the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes last December, she was stuck in traffic and finished a respectable fourth.

All of that pales in comparison to an incident before the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland last April. Just before the start, Hucking Hot unseated her rider and bolted through a narrow gap between the rail and the starting gate. She ran down the racetrack and struck a rail, but fortunately avoided serious injury.

"The seconds before the race, we thought she'd win," said Jamie Lloyd, assistant to trainer Paddy Gallagher. "We were really nervous. Two seconds later, I wanted to shoot myself. It was awful."

The incident cost Hucking Hot most of her 2007 campaign. She escaped the incident at Keeneland with cuts, but was given additional time off during the summer because of a growth spurt, Lloyd said.

"She just started growing and Paddy decided to give her some time," Lloyd said. "She's a big mare now."

Owned by a partnership led by Jim Ford, Hucking Hot will be after her second stakes win in the Kenis, and she still has the promise of a relatively young filly.

A winner of 2 of 8 starts and $99,088, Hucking Hot was purchased by Lloyd in England in the summer of 2006 at a time when he was training a small stable. When Lloyd went to work for Gallagher as an assistant in the fall of 2006, Hucking Hot was transferred to Gallagher.

Hucking Hot caught Lloyd's eye when he was reviewing video of potential purchases in England. When Hucking Hot beat maidens in her fourth start at Beverley, England, in June 2006, she began the race showing unruly behavior at the back of a small field. Lloyd was about to shut the tape off when he noticed how quickly Hucking Hot settled. Then, Hucking Hot stumbled badly, nearly fell, and recovered to win.

"I called Ford and said, 'You have to buy her,' " Lloyd said.

Lloyd has essentially retained the role of trainer in recent months, overseeing Hucking Hot's development at Hollywood Park.

"I think she's probably about 90opercent," he said. "She's probably fitter than we think she is. We hope she'll run well."

Considering the promise that Hucking Hot has shown at times in her career, Lloyd said Thursday he did not think he would get any sleep in the nights before the race. "I'm already nervous," he said.

Warning Zone earns derby shot

Warning Zone is bound for the $500,000 Hollywood Derby on Nov. 25 after winning his first stakes of 2007 in Wednesday's $69,750 War Chant Stakes on the opening day of the fall meeting.

Ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr., Warning Zone ($8.60) rallied from seventh in a field of nine to win the one-mile race by a half-length over 36-1 Bad Boy. Barbecue Eddie, who set the pace, held third.

"He's not a horse that has a tremendous turn of foot," Valdivia said. "He kind of keeps coming."

The win was the first for Warning Zone since the Grade 3 Generous Stakes here last November and was her third start of 2007.

The Grade 1 Hollywood Derby is run at 1 1/4 miles on turf, and is expected to draw the stakes winners Bold Hawk, Daytona, Medici Code, Nobiz Like Shobiz, Unusual Suspect, and Worldly.

Bold Hawk, trained by Jim Toner, won the Hawthorne Derby on Oct.o13. Worldly worked six furlongs on turf in 1:13.60 at Hollywood Park on Thursday.

Wednesday's ontrack attendance of 4,462 showed an increase of 4 percent over the corresponding day of the 2006 fall meeting. The all-sources handle of $7,873,992 increased 16.7opercent over 2006, while the ontrack handle of $1,103,950 was down $7,250 from 2006.

Silver Stetson Man seeks fourth win

The unbeaten Silver Stetson Man will attempt to win his fourth race in an optional claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs in Saturday's fifth race, which may serve as a prep to the $250,000 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26.

Trained by Bob Baffert for Mike Pegram, Silver Stetson Man has five rivals on Saturday, including Prime Ruler, the winner of the Foothill Stakes at Fairplex Park in September.

Silver Stetson Man races near the front and should have a pacesetter to follow in Bushwacker.

Jockey Victor Espinoza has ridden Silver Stetson Man for his wins - a maiden race here in April, an allowance race at Del Mar on Sept. 1, and an optional claimer at Santa Anita last month. In each race, Silver Stetson Man raced just off the lead and took the lead in the final furlong.

"I have to ride him a little harder in the stretch, but he's got a big heart," Espinoza said.