06/11/2002 11:00PM

Mandella tries to find cure for second-itis

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The stakes drought at the Richard Mandella stable has entered its third month.

Mandella has not won a stakes since the weekend of April 6-7, when he won three stakes at three tracks, with Alexine in the Santa Lucia Stakes at Santa Anita, Crazy Ensign in the Miss America Handicap at Bay Meadows, and Kudos in the Grade 1 Oaklawn Handicap at Oaklawn Park.

Since then, Mandella-trained runners have lost in 16 stakes, finishing second in seven of them.

"I can't complain," he said. "The horses are running well."

The losing streak may end at Hollywood Park on Saturday.

On one of the most lucrative days of the spring-summer meeting, Mandella has four starters in top stakes.

Ile de France drew the rail in the $250,000 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks, Cagney runs in the $350,000 Charles Whittingham Handicap, and Redattore and Investor's Dream are contenders in a wide-open $500,000 Californian Stakes.

None will go favored, but they all have strong credentials.

Redattore has accounted for two of Mandella's second-place finishes in stakes since early April, having finished second in the Inglewood Handicap and Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile. The Californian, which is run over 1 1/8 miles, will be his first start on dirt since his victory in he Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita in February.

Race tactics may help Redattore, who should be close to what is expected to be a slow pace.

"It depends on how fast they'll go, but Redattore will be in the first flight," Mandella said. "[Investor's Dream] will sit in the middle somewhere."

Redattore will be well backed in a race that includes Milwaukee Brew, the winner of the Santa Anita Handicap.

Investor's Dream will be more of a longshot. A 4-year-old, Investor's Dream won his United States debut, on turf here on May 3 and has not started on dirt since he finished second in a Group 3 race in Brazil in April 2001.

Ile de France has something to prove in the Hollywood Oaks, run over 1 1/16 miles.

She was a respectable third behind You and Habibti in the Santa Anita Oaks in March but was sixth of nine in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs last month.

"She got a little upset at the gate," Mandella said. "She was away from home, and she has a little temper to begin with. I didn't plan to bring her back [so soon], but she's doing well, so I'll go ahead."

Adoration is the likely favorite in the Oaks. Trained by David Hofmans, Adoration won the Senorita Stakes on turf on May 4 and is the lone graded stakes winner in a field of eight.

Cagney is winless in four starts since the Grade 3 Carleton Burke Handicap last October. He was tried on dirt for the second time in his 15-race career in the Santa Anita Handicap and ran fifth. In the marathon San Juan Capistrano Handicap on April 21, he finished fourth as the favorite.

"He came out of this race a little flat," Mandella said. "I think I might have overtrained him into that."

In the Whittingham, run over 1 1/4 miles on turf, Cagney faces Skipping, the winner of the Jim Murray Handicap last month; Ringaskiddy, the San Juan Capistrano Handicap winner; Night Patrol, who beat Redattore in the Inglewood Handicap; and six others.

Farda Amiga on way back

Farda Amiga, the upset winner of the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 3, is unlikely to start at this meeting after responding slowly to a virus that kept her out of training last month.

Trainer Paulo Lobo said on Wednesday that time is running out for Farda Amiga to be ready for the $500,000 American Oaks on July 6.

"It will be very hard for the American Oaks," he said.

Farda Amiga emerged from the Kentucky Oaks with an illness that kept her at Churchill Downs for two weeks after that race. She did not resume training until late May.

Lobo said Farda Amiga is galloping and that she is approaching her first workout since the Kentucky Oaks. She is being considered for the $750,000 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 17.

Swaps next for Like a Hero

Like a Hero, the winner of the Alydar Stakes here on May 23 and then seventh in the Belmont Stakes, has returned to Hollywood Park and is being pointed to the $500,000 Swaps Stakes on July 14, trainer Beau Greely said.

Like a Hero finished 17 3/4 lengths behind upset winner Sarava in the Belmont Stakes, his first time in a graded stakes.

"He got hit out of the gate," Greely said. "I was hoping he'd be four or five lengths out of it. He only ran about a quarter of a mile."

Came Home, the winner of the Santa Anita Derby in April, may start in the Swaps, with a possible prep in the $100,000 Affirmed Handicap on June 23. On Wednesday at Santa Anita, Came Home worked six furlongs in 1:11.80, the fastest of 13 works at the distance.