05/23/2001 11:00PM

La Croix says tender shin won't hinder Fonz's

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Fonz's had trainer David La Croix fooled when he won his debut by four lengths in a maiden race at Hollywood Park on May 12.

"I thought he'd run good, but he was cheating on me in the morning," La Croix said. "I didn't expect him to run that kind of race."

The extent of Fonz's talent, and his physical condition, will be tested in Saturday's $75,000 Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes, the first stakes of the year in Southern California for 2-year-old males.

The Proctor, run over five furlongs, has drawn eight entrants, including two other well-regarded maiden winners at this meeting - Expected Program and Roberto's Show.

Expected Program, trained by James Chapman, won a 4 1/2 furlong maiden race by 3 1/4 lengths on April 29 despite blowing the turn, losing the lead, and rallying in the stretch to win comfortably.

Roberto's Show won a maiden race for California-breds by two lengths on April 21. Trainer Clifford Sise describes Roberto's Show as "the best 2-year-old I've had."

Owned by Gary and Timothy Burke, Roberto's Show was purchased for $2,500.

"I'll just blow everybody away," said Sise, when asked to predict the outcome. "I may not have to worry about Chapman's if his horse goes and gets a hot dog."

On a more serious note, Sise expects Roberto's Show to improve through the summer.

"He wants to go farther," he said. "He's a sound, good-looking horse that hasn't come into himself."

La Croix is equally confident about Fonz's. He said Fonz's has a tender shin on his right foreleg, but that it has not slowed his training.

"Normally, I wouldn't run him back in two weeks, but I think fitness-wise he's good," La Croix said. "I'm sure the shin is not bothering him."

Nonetheless, La Croix says Fonz's may get a lengthy rest after the weekend.

"It's a little tender," he said. "He trains perfectly on it. I have no question it won't bother him. It's so slight. I wouldn't run him if I felt it would jeopardize his performance."

Swaps next for Bayout the Moon

Bayou the Moon will be pointed to the $500,000 Swaps Stakes on July 15 following his first stakes win in Wednesday's $78,150 Alydar Stakes.

For a midweek stakes, the Alydar drew a strong field, and provided Bayou the Moon with a stern test in his stakes debut. The field of five 3-year-olds included Takin it Deep, the winner of the California Derby; Romanceishope, the winner of the Snow Chief Stakes for California-breds; and Until Sundown, who like Bayou the Moon was making his stakes debut.

Bayou the Moon ($5.80) ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.41, finishing a neck in front of Until Sundown, the 6-5 favorite who was wide throughout.

Ridden by Alex Solis, Bayou the Moon was wide for most of the Alydar Stakes, stalking the lead. He rallied two wide on the final turn and caught Until Sundown inside the final furlong. Romanceishope finished third.

"He had to keep fighting," Mandella said. "That other horse was running. It was a pretty tough $75,000. I wanted to see if he could run on dirt and do it right because this summer there are a lot of things you can do."

Owned by R.D. Hubbard and Ed Allred, Bayou the Moon has won three consecutive races, including a maiden race on turf at Santa Anita and an allowance race here on April 21.

Last year at Del Mar, Bayou the Moon finished seventh in a maiden race over 5 1/2 furlongs that included Point Given, who finished second.

"I ran him at Del Mar and he had a little bit of a shin," Mandella said. "I was nursing that shin and I found out I wasn't a very good nurse."

Mandella said he will bypass the $150,000 Affirmed Handicap on June 17, to give Bayou the Moon more time to prepare for the Swaps.

Big talkers

The banter between trainers Bobby Frankel and Mike Mitchell in advance of Monday's $100,000 Laz Barrera Handicap continues.

Both trainers have front-runners preparing for the seven-furlong Barrera, and both love their chances. Frankel trains Squirtle Squirt, the winner of four sprint stakes last year. Mitchell trains Skip to the Stone, who won two Grade 3 sprints earlier this year.

On a backstretch platform overlooking the racetrack on Thursday morning, Frankel and Mitchell crossed paths, resulting in a friendly exchange.

"You know you're not going to make the lead," Frankel said.

"You know you're not going to be five in front," Mitchell replied. "You're going to have earn this big boy."

Stevens will return for Beverly Hills

Gary Stevens will miss several days of racing at Hollywood Park in June to ride at Royal Ascot in England from June 19-22, but will cut short a previously scheduled vacation to ride here on June 24.

Stevens had considered taking a brief vacation to visit friends and his wife's family in England. Thursday, he said he will return to Hollywood Park in time to ride for trainer Neil Drysdale in the $250,000 Beverly Hills Handicap.

Stevens rides the Drysdale-trained Kalypso Katie in Saturday's Gamely Handicap, a prep for the Beverly Hills.