11/19/2007 1:00AM

Mandella has high goals for this one

EmailINGLEWOOD, Calif. - Solemn Promise was on the fast track earlier this year, when he was sent into a rich stakes race following a debut maiden win. Owing to an injury, he has been idle for eight months, but he could head right out of the pits and back into the fast lane should he win the featured seventh race Wednesday at Hollywood Park.

Solemn Promise returns in a first-level allowance going seven furlongs, but there are loftier goals for him. Richard Mandella, who now trains Solemn Promise, said the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26, opening day of Santa Anita's main winter meeting, is the near-term target. The Malibu is the first leg of the Strub Series for 4-year-olds of 2008. It also includes the 1 1/16-mile San Fernando Stakes and the 1o1/8-mile Strub Stakes.

"When he came to me, they said they wanted to send him here for the winter with the Strub Series in mind," Mandella said Monday. "He's been training fabulous. I've had him two months, but he was pretty fit when he came to me."

Solemn Promise, owned by the WinStar Farm of Bill Casner and Kenny Trout, was trained by Dale Romans for his first two starts. He won first time out sprinting against maidens at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 10, rallying from last after breaking poorly, then off that race was sent to the $600,000 WinStar Derby at Sunland Park, where he finished second while well clear of the rest of the field going 1 1/8 miles.

According to Mandella, Solemn Promise went to the sidelines with an ankle chip.

As good as Solemn Promise looks, he is returning in a salty race. Ten others are entered, including the regally bred Highway Patrol, a son of A.P. Indy who was a debut winner last month at Keeneland for trainer Christophe Clement.

There are a few others with decent chances.

Wild Diplomat comes off a front-running victory against maidens at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting in which he earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 91.

Talkin to Mom Roo set a hot pace in a similar first-level allowance at Santa Anita before fading to fifth. Hurry Up Austin was second in that race, the fifth time he has been second in his last seven starts.

Cotton King was dull on Oct. 25 in his first start in seven months, but is returning to a sprint and is adding blinkers.