10/04/2010 3:07PM

La Nez getting grass test


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – A six-furlong turf sprint Wednesday at Hollywood Park will determine the autumn campaign for California-bred stakes winner La Nez.

If she runs well Wednesday in the second-level allowance, La Nez will return at the same distance over the same course Oct. 30 in the $100,000 California Cup Distaff.

“We’ll see if it is feasible, see if she handles the grass” trainer Eric Kruljac said.

La Nez raced once previously on grass, finishing sixth last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. “That was a mile, and a mile is not her game,” Kruljac said. “It took a long time for that to sink in.”

Kruljac tried La Nez in three subsequent route races, and she never got close. After her most recent start, a seventh-place finish in a two-turn stakes at Del Mar, Kruljac concluded La Nez is best as a closing sprinter.

Her 3-for-12 record includes two statebred stakes wins at seven furlongs – the California Cup Juvenile Fillies last fall at Santa Anita, and the Fleet Treat Stakes in July at Del Mar. Victor Espinoza rides La Nez, trying to become the meet’s first come-from-behind turf sprint winner. Three turf sprints opening week of Oak Tree-at-Hollywood were won by the pacesetter; two were favored, the other was second choice.

Although La Nez is the most accomplished entrant in the Wednesday feature, a case can be made for all five rivals. That includes likely pacesetter Sweet Sophia, a 2-for-5 filly racing for the first time since June.

“I’m not worried about her fitness. I’ve got plenty of training in her,” trainer Gary Mandella said. The challenge for Sweet Sophia is maintaining her composure.

“She’s a nervous filly. She’s lost a couple races before she got to the gate,” Mandella said. “You have to watch her in the paddock and post parade to see if she still has her composure.” Sweet Sophia and jockey David Flores are expected to set a modest pace.

Sister Dawn was overmatched last out in a Grade 3 at Saratoga. Two previous starts include a first-level turf allowance win and a runner-up finish two starts back on the Hollywood turf. Sister Dawn, favored her first six starts, is likely to be overplayed again.

The field includes two comebackers – late-runner Miss Silver Brook, and pace-presser Church Camp. Softly Singing is usually close. The feature is race 7.