07/01/2008 12:00AM

Lang Field to try main track


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Things might seem a little odd at Hollywood Park on Thursday and Friday, when the track flip-flops its night schedule to adjust for the holiday weekend.

First post Thursday has been moved back to 7:05 p.m.; first post Friday, the Fourth of July, has been moved up to 1:20.

But the biggest change on Thursday occurs on the track. Lang Field, a Grade 1 winner on turf, switches surfaces and returns from a five-month layoff in making his first start on the Hollywood main track.

The front-running gray is the speed of the $75,000 Ferdinand Handicap, and if he runs like he trains, trainer Art Sherman believes he can steal the 1 1/16-mile race.

“He’s the type horse that I think would fire off a break,” Sherman said.

In fact, Lang Field has been working strongly for his first start on Cushion Track.

“The way he trains on it, I don’t think surface will make that much of a difference,” Sherman said.

Lang Field won the Grade 1 Citation on the Hollywood turf last fall, his fourth victory of the year. But when the Santa Anita winter meet turned wet and ugly, Sherman gave him a break: “The track was messed up, and they were missing days, so I kicked him out for a couple months.”

Sherman said Lang Field “looks good, he’s put on weight, and now I have a fresh horse coming into that division.”

The question is, what division? The spring meet at Hollywood ends in two weeks, and even if Lang Field wins Thursday, his front-running style might be less effective at Del Mar.

Sherman said Lang Field’s summer campaign depends on two things – how he fares Thursday on Cushion Track, and the characteristics of Polytrack at Del Mar.

As for Sherman, signs are he is emerging from an uncharacteristic slump. Historically a 20 percent trainer, Sherman won just six races from his first 90 starters this year (7 percent). But he won with two of his most recent nine, and promises “things look better for the second half of the year.”

Though he is the most accomplished horse Thursday, Lang Field could have his hands full against racing-fit Dilemma and Tiz Afire. Charmo, Tissy Fit, and Decado also entered. The Ferdinand is race 5 on the eight-race nighttime card.