06/24/2003 11:00PM

Mont Saint Michel may find his spot


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Mont Saint Michel has shown erratic form since arriving from Chile in early 2002.

He has one win in seven starts, and has been second or third in three other races in the last 15 months.

While he is overshadowed in trainer Bobby Frankel's world-class stables, there are races that Mont Saint Michel can win, which is why he deserves consideration in the second race at Hollywood Park on Friday.

Run over 1 1/4 miles on turf, the race is a $55,000 optional claimer. Mont Saint Michel drew the rail, facing Tifonica and Christel Flame, two fillies who ran one-two over 1 1/4 miles on turf on June 5; Timber Cruiser, who was fifth in the San Juan Capistrano Handicap; Charley Bates, who finished second in a similar race May 24; and Trompolino, who was sixth in the Santa Anita Handicap.

Trainer Neil Drysdale entered Christel Flame and Charley Bates, who may go favored. Stakes placed in France last year, Charley Bates has run twice at this meeting. He won an optional claimer over 1 1/2 miles on April 23 but finished two lengths behind Puerto Banus in a 1 1/4-mile race May 24.

Christel Flame, a 4-year-old who beat males in France last year, was a disappointment in her last start. Christel Flame was 4-5 and led by two lengths in midstretch, but she offered little resistance in the final furlong.

Even though Friday's race is run over 1 1/4 miles on turf, there will be no shortage of pace, which helps Mont Saint Michel.

Trompolino has led in his last four starts. He was in front on the backstretch in the Santa Anita Handicap but was no factor in the stretch, fading to finish 19 1/2 lengths behind Milwaukee Brew. Trompolino has been fourth and fifth in two subsequent races on turf.

Timber Cruiser has shown the same style. A 4-year-old, he led throughout two turf races at Santa Anita earlier this year. In the San Juan, over about 1 3/4 miles on turf, Timber Cruiser led after 1 1/2 miles but faded to finish fifth, 2 1/2 lengths behind Passinetti.

On May 24, Timber Cruiser was beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Puerto Banus after leading near the eighth pole.

Mont Saint Michel was sixth behind Puerto Banus. In his preceding race, on March 30 at Santa Anita, Mont Saint Michel rallied from seventh to win by a half-length at the same distance as Friday's race.