05/26/2004 11:00PM

Late-starting Siphonizer ready to roll

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Siphonizer spent a month on the sidelines this winter, recovering from a throat operation. The vacation prevented him from starting in the Triple Crown, but the time away and the success of the surgery could lead to a lucrative summer campaign.

Saturday, Siphonizer will be favored in the $150,000 Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes over seven furlongs, the first of three graded stakes on dirt for 3-year-olds at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting.

Trained by Richard Mandella, Siphonizer won his only start of the year - a six-furlong allowance race by 6 1/2 lengths at Churchill Downs April 24.

"He ran terrific," Mandella said.

is proven over the seven-furlong distance of the Grade 2 Barrera. Last summer, Siphonizer won his first stakes in the Grade 2 Del Mar Futurity at that distance. His form tailed off last fall, with a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Norfolk Stakes and a 10th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. The throat surgery, designed to aid breathing, was conducted in late December.

Mandella is hoping that Siphonizer can follow the Barrera with starts in the $100,000 Affirmed Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on June 19 and the $400,000 Swaps Stakes over 1 1/8 miles July 10.

In the Barrera, Siphonizer drew post 8 in a field of 10. The main opposition comes from , both sprint stakes winners, and Twice as Bad, who was stakes-placed at Calder last year.

In his recent start at Churchill Downs, Siphonizer ran near the lead early, a style Mandella expects to see on Saturday.

"He won't be too far off of it," Mandella said.

The pace will be set by Don'tsellmeshort and Hosco.

Hosco won the six-furlong San Miguel Stakes at Santa Anita in January, but is winless in his last three starts. He finished second in the San Vicente Stakes over seven furlongs in February, but was unplaced in two stakes around two turns in March.

"We'll keep him one turn until we get a winning streak," trainer Doug O'Neill said.

O'Neill also starts Skipaslew, a three-time stakes winner.

The Barrera is Skipaslew's first race in Southern California since a victory in the Gateway to Glory Stakes at Fairplex Park. He won the Gold Rush Stakes and Golden Gate Derby earlier this year and was fifth in the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne on April 3 in his last start.

"He came out of the Chicago race really worn down," O'Neill said. "We're looking for a race to get him back."