08/14/2009 12:00AM

Meteore back for a shot in La Jolla


DEL MAR, Calif. - The fifth-place finish by Meteore in the Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar on July 22 did not make sense to trainer Richard Mandella immediately after the race.

Closer inspection of the colt revealed why he failed as the 9-5 favorite.

"He came back with his feet bruised," Mandella said.

Meteore recovered quickly, enough for Mandella to plan a start in Saturday's $150,000 La Jolla Handicap on turf at Del Mar. The Grade 2 La Jolla is restricted to 3-year-olds over 1 1/16 miles.

"I'll run him back because he responded so well," Mandella said.

Meteore has strong credentials, having won his two races preceding the Oceanside, a maiden race and an optional claimer at Hollywood Park

"He won easily in those two races," Mandella said.

Meteore is part of a field of 10 in the La Jolla, but the race is expected to lose the Oceanside runner-up, Mark S the Cooler, to an optional claimer on Sunday.

The La Jolla has not drawn a particularly strong field. The Oceanside Stakes winner, Afleet Eagle, is skipping the race in favor of the $350,000 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 6.

One of the expected nine starters will win his first stakes in the La Jolla. Three of them have placed in stakes.

Rendezvous was third in the Oceanside; Arcodoro, still a maiden, was second in the Cinema Handicap at Hollywood Park; and Herr Mozart was third in the With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga last summer.

Of the late-developing colts, Meteore and I'll Show Them demand attention.

I'll Show Them is making his stakes debut after whipping through his first two starts earlier this summer at Hollywood Park. He overcame trouble to beat maidens in a sprint on June 13, and handled his turf debut and first start around two turns with no difficulty in an optional claimer on July 2.

Trainer David Hofmans skipped the Oceanside with the intent of running I'll Show Them in the La Jolla and Del Mar Derby.

"I brought him back quick after his first race," Hofmans said.

In the optional claimer, I'll Show Them stalked the pace until early stretch and won by a length. He still has something to prove to Hofmans.

"He wants to run and wants to be competitive," Hofmans said. "We'll see how good he is. I probably think he's better than he is."