07/15/2010 12:00AM

Miguel's Mascot out to build on return


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - For two years, Miguel's Mascot has been highly regarded by trainer Eric Kruljac and owner-breeder Tom Clark. This summer, the expectations may turn to reality.

In Friday's fourth race at Hollywood Park, Miguel's Mascot makes his second start since returning from injury in an optional claimer for statebreds over 1 1/16 miles on turf. Considering the way the 4-year-old ran when third, beaten a half-length, in a similar field on June 18, Kruljac expects a winning performance.

"We have to hope he can move up a length," Kruljac said. "Hopefully, he'll come back a little better. He has every chance to move up."

Miguel's Mascot has 2 wins in 11 starts, including a second in the Silky Sullivan Stakes for statebreds at Golden Gate Fields in May 2009. Later that month, he finished seventh in the Alcatraz Stakes there but emerged from the race with a suspensory injury that required a lengthy rest.

"That's why I gave him so much time off," Kruljac said. "When they say to give them four months, I gave him eight."

In his June 18 comeback, Miguel's Mascot was always near the front. He led by a half-length with a furlong remaining and finished behind Jack's Wild and Pop'shands Are Hot, both of whom start on Friday. Jack's Wild is entered for a $25,000 claiming price. Pop'shands Are Hot has started once since June 18, finishing fifth in an optional claimer for statebreds over six furlongs on turf on July 1.

Kruljac was content with Miguel's Mascot's comeback race, since the fractions were a relatively quick 23.48 and 46.59 seconds.

"He was so close to the lead and the fractions were fast, but he kept going," Kruljac said.

Friday's race drew a field of six. The longshot Aliza's Dream may have the early lead, which would give Miguel's Mascot an early target. Teafatiller and Stalking Gold are the other starters but were unplaced in their last appearances.

* In Friday's seventh race, an allowance race for statebred females over six furlongs, Missdealornodeal will try to beat winners for the first time. Trained by Carla Gaines, Missdealornodeal won a maiden race for statebred females on May 14 and was second in an allowance race on June 12, leading to the final furlong.