05/03/2007 11:00PM

Mandella barn at crossroads

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The next week will determine the impact that trainer Richard Mandella's stable will have in several divisions this spring and summer.

Sunday at Hollywood Park, Mandella starts Horse Greeley in an optional claimer over 6 1/2 furlongs. Horse Greeley won the Grade 2 Del Mar Futurity last summer.

Next Saturday, Mandella has runners in two stakes - Prospect Park in the $250,000 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf, and the rapidly improving Peace Chant in the $100,000 Los Angeles Handicap over six furlongs.

If those horses run well, Mandella's stable could play an important role in upcoming stakes for 3-year-olds, turf horses and sprinters.

Sunday's optional claimer is Horse Greeley's first start since a seventh-place finish in the Grade 2 Norfolk Breeders' Cup Stakes at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting last fall. He emerged from that race with an injury that knocked him out of the Breeders' Cup and Triple Crown.

Owned by Martha Parfet, Horse Greeley has been working steadily, and quickly at times, for his comeback.

"He's doing fabulous," Mandella said. "I expect he'll run a very good race. He hasn't run in a while, but he trains well."

Mandella said that Horse Greeley's reappearance in a sprint does not mean that the 3-year-old will be limited to shorter distances this year.

"I know he can sprint well and I'll hope he can do better going long," Mandella said.

Horse Greeley will have six rivals, including Maktub who won a six-furlong optional claimer by 2 1/2 lengths in a quick time in his California debut on April 7.

Prospect Park is searching for his first stakes win since a Group 3 in France in September 2005. He has made two starts this year, including a third in the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Handicap at Santa Anita on March 24.

Prospect Park will face San Juan Capistrano Handicap winner On the Acorn as well as Notable Guest and Runaway Dancer in the Murray Handicap.

Peace Chant, 4, is unbeaten in two races this year, and is searching for his first stakes win. He was second in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita in February 2006 before being sidelined by injury.

The two wins this year, in an allowance race and an optional claimer, are the best races of his career.

"He's been pretty awesome in his two races back," Mandella said.

Peace Chant faces a tough group, led by Bordonaro, a five-time stakes winner.

Espinoza suspensions kick in soon

Jockey Victor Espinoza won three races on Thursday, but he will not have many chances to do that during the rest of May.

Earlier this week, Espinoza dropped appeals of four three-day suspensions he was given for causing interference in races at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita in December, January, March, and April.

The suspension dates are May 9-13, 16-20, and 23-24. The suspension does not prevent Espinoza from riding graded stakes during that period, but if he rides more than one in a single day he must serve an additional day of suspension.

Through Thursday, Espinoza was the leading rider at this meeting with 11 wins, 2 more than Michael Baze and Joe Talamo. Espinoza finished in a tie for the riding title at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting with Garrett Gomez.

Main-track surface gets tune-up

Hollywood Park added water to its synthetic main track late Thursday evening, the first time that water had been applied to the surface since November, according to track superintendent Dennis Moore.

Water was added because the surface had become loose and created more kickback than normal through the first few racing days of the week.

Water is frequently applied to conventional dirt surfaces, but is usually not been necessary on synthetic surfaces.

"Water is not going to hurt this track," Moore said on Friday. "With the watering, what little kickback we have will be less. Even with the complaints everyone said it was a safer track and consistent."

Earlier in the week, trainers and jockeys expressed concern that course was deep. As a result, Moore adjusted the maintenance routine and bladed, rolled and harrowed the track on Wednesday morning in an effort to make it tighter.

"That helped as well," Moore said.

Trainer Bobby Frankel had discussed track conditions with Moore through the week and said he noticed an improved condition on Friday morning.

"I think everything will be all right now," he said.

Two future stakes runners

Arm Candy and Albertus Maximus won allowance races at Hollywood Park on Thursday, displaying the sort of form that is likely to lead to stakes appearances this spring and summer.

For trainer Ben Cecil, Arm Candy's victory was a relief. The 4-year-old filly has battled a gruesome case of warts on her chest and between her forelegs that has required laser surgery.

The warts are still healing and may hinder Arm Candy's stride, Cecil said. She suffered from the condition when she was purchased in England last fall, Cecil said.

Despite the ailment, Arm Candy won a $55,400 allowance race over 1o1/16 miles on turf by a length over the stakes winner Illuminise.

"She had every excuse not to run well at all," Cecil said. "There is better to come from her."

Albertus Maximus won a first-condition allowance race over 1 1/16 miles by 2 1/2 lengths, staying on the track's favorable rail throughout. The allowance race was Albertus Maximus's first start since winning a maiden race on March 3. A 3-year-old, Albertus Maximus may return in the $100,000 Affirmed Handicap on June 17.

"He got a little tired in the last sixteenth, but it was his first start in two months, trainer Gary Mandella said. "He'll get some confidence out of it."

Guillot reports late, gets fined

Trainer Eric Guillot has been fined $750 for failing to report in a timely fashion that Silver Wind was racing as a gelding for the first time in the second race at Santa Anita on April 21.

Silver Wind finished third in a race for maidens. The public was notified that Silver Wind was racing as a gelding at 12:29 p.m. on the day of the race, or one minute before the day's first race.