11/26/2003 12:00AM

Irish Warrior fits success pattern for Dollase

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Trainer Wally Dollase will go for a record fifth win - and third straight - in the $400,000 Citation Handicap on Saturday, when Irish Warrior starts in the Grade 2 turf race at Hollywood Park.

Considering Dollase's philosophy toward acquiring horses, it should not be a surprise that his stable excels in stakes such as the Citation, run over 1 1/16 miles. Dollase often buys European imports best-suited to racing on turf, and seeks the same horses at sales in this country.

"I like middle-distance grass horses," Dollase said.

Irish Warrior is having his best season this year, and he may be favored in the Citation, which will include Captain Squire, Mister Acpen, Nicobar, and Redattore.

Owned by Pat Coleman, George Dosaro, Jim Thompson, and Dollase, Irish Warrior has won 2 of 9 starts this year, including the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf on Aug. 31. He has lost his last two starts but has run respectably, finishing third in the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita on Sept. 28 and fourth in the Breeders' Cup Mile on Oct. 25.

Dollase and the partners considered running Irish Warrior in the Breeders' Cup Turf over 1 1/2 miles.

"He wasn't ready for the mile and a half, and he was fit enough to run a mile," Dollase said. "His best distance is a mile and an eighth."

Even though Irish Warrior was beaten only 2 1/4 lengths by Six Perfections in the BC Mile, Dollase has expressed reservation about the Citation Handicap distance.

"This might be too short for him," he said.

Dollase paid $90,000 for Irish Warrior at the 1999 Keeneland September yearling sale, but did not start the horse until July 2001, as a 3-year-old.

"I had distance and grass in mind," he said. "The owners decided after I bought him not to run him until he was 3 to give him plenty of time. He's better at 5 than at 3."

Dollase won the Citation with Southern Wish (1994), Military (1998), and with Good Journey the last two years.

Good Journey, now retired to stud in Australia, was third in the 2002 BC Mile at Arlington Park.

Dollase says that Irish Warrior compares well to his previous Citation winners, and possesses a quick burst in the final quarter-mile.

"He's very rateable," Dollase said. "He's a smart horse and has that class about him. Good Journey was the same way. All of them were about the same - they are very professional."

Century City hurting slightly

The Citation field will not include Century City, the third-place finisher in the BC Mile.

Trainer Beau Greely said that Century City emerged from a workout on Sunday "a little stiff," and that the timing of the race "is horrible."

Greely said that Century City appears to have strained a shoulder muscle.

"We don't see anything major," Greely said. "We won't make this race. The good news is that it looks like it's only a slight injury."

Festival peaks on Sunday

The highlight of the autumn Turf Festival is Sunday's card, which features the $600,000 Hollywood Derby and the $500,000 Matriarch Stakes. Both races are expected to draw the maximum fields of 14.

The Hollywood Derby, run over 1 1/4 miles on turf, is led by Fairly Ransom, the winner of the Del Mar Derby in his last start. The other probables are Alberto Giacometti, Bis Repetitas, Californian, Fortune Writers, Kicken Kris, Senor Swinger, Sigint, Sign of the Wolf, Silver Tree, Stanley Park, Sweet Return, Urban King, and Willard Straight.

The race is likely to be oversubscribed.

The French stakes winner Etoile Montante is a top contender in the Matriarch, which is run over a mile on turf for fillies and mares. The other candidates are Acago, Belleski, Chopinina, Dancal, Dedication, Dress to Thrill, Garden in the Rain, Heat Haze, Island Fashion, Maiden Tower, Magic Mission, Mer de Corail, and Musical Chimes.

Dress to Thrill won the 2002 Matriarch, but has only one victory in four starts this year - the Grade 3 All Along Breeders' Cup Stakes at Colonial Downs in July.

The track is guaranteeing a $1 million pick six pool on Sunday. In an additional promotion, there is an ontrack giveaway of a Julie Krone bobblehead doll.

Watching the calendar with Elloluv

Elloluv, who enhanced her chances for the 3-year-old filly championship with a runner-up finish in the Breeders' Cup Distaff last month at Santa Anita, worked a half-mile in 49.80 seconds at Hollywood Park on Wednesday.

Trainer Craig Dollase said Elloluv will make her next start in the La Brea Stakes over seven furlongs for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita on Dec. 27, second day of the winter-spring meeting.

The date of the race is important to Dollase and owner Paul Reddam, who are hoping that a win in the La Brea will enhance Elloluv's chances for a championship.

"It would be a real feather in her cap if she can win another Grade 1 before the year is out," Dollase said.

"I'm hoping people will hold off on their votes until then, but I'm sure most people like to fill out the ballot and turn it back in."

Elloluv has won 5 of 10 starts and $1,221,475. Earlier this year, she won the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes and was second in the Las Virgenes, Santa Anita Oaks, and Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap.

* Jockey Omar Berrio has been suspended for three days - from Dec. 4-6 - after his mount, Springster, caused interference at the start of the ninth race last Saturday. Springster finished sixth in a maiden claimer over 6 1/2 furlongs but broke in, causing the three horses to his inside to be steadied.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman