04/26/2004 11:00PM

Inglewood garden spot for The Eden


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The Eden will go from workout partner to important horses to perhaps a starring role himself in Saturday's $100,000 Inglewood Handicap at Hollywood Park.

In recent months, The Eden has worked with two of trainer Jeff Mullins's top horses - Santa Anita Derby winner Castledale and impressive allowance race winner Choctaw Nation.

On Saturday, Castledale will attempt to pull an upset in the Kentucky Derby. The Eden will be making his U.S. stakes debut in the Inglewood Handicap.

The Eden won three consecutive group stakes in Argentina last year before being sent to California. He made his first start in the U.S. in an allowance race at Santa Anita on Feb. 14, finishing seventh. Mullins had been hoping to see enough in that race to justify a trip to the $2 million UAE Derby in Dubai.

"He's done nothing but go forward since then," Mullins said. "He's gained weight and is training more aggressively. Some take longer to acclimate, and that's the case with this horse."

The Inglewood Handicap is run over 1 1/16 miles on turf. The Eden won a maiden race on turf in Argentina in April 2003 but won his three stakes while racing on dirt.

The Grade 3 Inglewood will have a strong field. The other probable starters include Designed for Luck, Golden Dragon, Irish Warrior, Just Wonder, Seinne, Statement, and Tronare.

Designed for Luck, the winner of the Grade 2 Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita last October, and Just Wonder, who won the Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap here last June, share top weight of 118 pounds.

Neither has won this year. Just Wonder has made one start, finishing second in the El Cielo Stakes on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita. Designed for Luck has run twice, finishing seventh in the Thunder Road Handicap and fifth in the Frank Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita.

Aspen Gal tops in Railbird field

Sunday's top race is the $100,000 Railbird Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over seven furlongs.

Aspen Gal, second in the La Habra Stakes at Santa Anita in February, heads a small field that is expected to include A Precious Memory, Elusive Diva, and Healthy Addiction.

Southern Image eyes Pimlico Special

Southern Image, who won three stakes at the Santa Anita meeting, will make his next start in the Grade 1, $500,000 Pimlico Special on May 14, according to trainer Mike Machowsky.

"It's 90 percent likely that we'll go to the Pimlico Special," he said.

At the Santa Anita meeting, Southern Image won the Grade 1 Malibu, the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic for California-breds and Florida-breds, and the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap.

In the Santa Anita Handicap, Southern Image was favored after the withdrawal of Pleasantly Perfect the day before the race because of a temperature. Pleasantly Perfect later won the $6 million Dubai World Cup.

Southern Image worked seven furlongs in 1:24 on Sunday. "He finished up very well," Machowsky said.

Wally Dunn memorial date undecided

Retired trainer Wally Dunn, who trained 1964 Kentucky Oaks winner Blue Norther, died last week at his home in Arcadia, Calif.

A native of Manitoba, Canada, Dunn was 92. Though he had not trained since the 1980's, Dunn was a frequent visitor to Santa Anita, often spending mornings watching workouts and visiting friends. He remained active in the bloodstock business in recent years.

Dunn moved to California in the late 1930's, and first trained at Bay Meadows. A member of the British Columbia Racing Hall of Fame, he served in World War II for the Canadian Army in Germany.

Dunn was well known as the trainer of Correspondent, the winner of the 1954 Hollywood Gold Cup, and Colorado King, the winner of the American Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup and Sunset Handicap in 1964.

Colorado King equaled a then-world record of 1:46.40 for 1 1/8 miles in the American Handicap.

Blue Norther won the 1964 Kentucky Oaks under Bill Shoemaker.

Dunn was one of five brothers involved in racing.

A memorial service will be held at Santa Anita; the date is yet to be set.