06/09/2004 11:00PM

Musical Chimes due for a breakout


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Musical Chimes secured a place in European racing history with a win in the French 1000 Guineas last year.

So far, she has not made the same impact in the United States. That could change when Musical Chimes runs against males in a stakes for the first time in Saturday's $350,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park.

The Grade 1 stakes over 1 1/4 miles on turf is a race that trainer Neil Drysdale thinks Musical Chimes can win.

"It doesn't appear to be the toughest Grade 1 on the calendar this year - on paper," Drysdale said.

Owned by Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum, Musical Chimes has only one stakes win in her 12-race career. She is winless in four starts in this country, but has shown flashes of brilliance.

Last fall, she was second in the Yellow Ribbon and Matriarch Stakes, but 11th in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

In her lone start this year, Musical Chimes finished second against males in a one-mile allowance race May 30. Sent off as the 6-5 favorite, Musical Chimes rallied from fifth to finish a half-length behind Stage Player.

"I thought she ran very well," Drysdale said. "We felt she needed the race. She's come on from the race."

Musical Chimes is the lone female in the Whittingham field of 11. She is winless in three starts at or close to 1 1/4 miles. She was third in the French Oaks last June over about 1 5/16 miles; second by three-quarters of a length to Tates Creek in the Yellow Ribbon Stakes over 1 1/4 miles; and 11th over 1 1/4 miles in the BC Filly and Mare Turf.

Drysdale threw out the BC Filly and Mare Turf, an opinion that was validated when Musical Chimes returned to finish a game second to Heat Haze in the Matriarch Stakes over a mile on turf a month later.

"In the Breeders' Cup, we made a mistake," he said. "She was wearing blinkers and consequently she didn't settle. In the Yellow Ribbon, she just missed."

With Drysdale's female turf division stocked with talent such as Dimitrova and Stage Shy, the barn can take a chance with Musical Chimes in the Whittingham.

Stevens back aboard Sweet Return

Jockey Gary Stevens, currently riding in France for top trainer Andre Fabre, has been booked to ride Sweet Return in the $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar on July 25, trainer Ron McAnally said.

Stevens will be in California in late July for approximately a week, during which he will be married to Angie Athayde. The couple met during the filming of "Seabiscuit" in 2002 while she was working on the film.

Stevens rode Sweet Return to wins earlier this year in the San Marcos Stakes and Frank Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita. Sweet Return was second in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs under Pat Day on May 1 and fifth in the Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile at Hollywood Park under Victor Espinoza on May 31.

McAnally dismissed the Shoemaker loss since Sweet Return was close to a quick pace. "That's not his style," he said.

McAnally said the long-range goal for Sweet Return is the Arlington Million on Aug. 14.

Chandtrue redirected to Haggin

Chandtrue, the unbeaten winner of the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes on May 20, will start in the $75,000 Haggin Stakes over 5 1/2 furlongs June 20, a change from trainer Bob Hess's original plan.

"He's doing unbelievably well," Hess said. "He's forcing me to run."

After the Proctor, Hess intended to wait for the $100,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship over six furlongs July 17, a race Chandtrue may skip.

"I'll have to skip one of these races, but I'll let it be the horse's decision and not mine," Hess said.

Hess said Chandtrue has the $150,000 Best Pal Stakes on Aug. 15 and the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 8 as long-term goals.

Don'tsellmeshort gets a break

Don'tsellmeshort, a three-time stakes winner who has placed in two stakes at the current Hollywood Park meeting, is being given the month off, trainer Dan Hendricks said.

Don'tsellmeshort, 3, will spend the month at a farm in Hemet, Calif., before resuming training.

Owned by Cecil Peacock, Don'tsellmeshort has won 4 of 13 starts and $382,395. He won three stakes at 2: the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar, Barretts Juvenile at Fairplex Park, and California Breeders' Champion Stakes at Santa Anita.

Hendricks said the $100,000 Real Good Deal Stakes for 3-year-old California-breds over seven furlongs at Del Mar on Aug. 6 is Don'tsellmeshort's summer goal.

Fatal Caper first to four

Fatal Caper became the first four-time winner at the current Hollywood Park meeting with a last-to-first rally in Wednesday's second race.

Trained by A.C. Avila for Earl McNeil and Haras el Palenque, Fatal Caper has won all her races in dirt routes for claimers, scoring for $10,000 on April 21, $14,000 on May 2, $12,500 on May 19, and for $16,000 on Wednesday.

With a little more than five weeks remaining in the meeting, Fatal Caper is two wins shy of equaling the record of six wins at the meet shared by three horses - Flying Jean (1940), Kay Diane (1941), and Security Check (1968).

Victory Encounter works

Victory Encounter, who won the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap in an upset over Adoration earlier this meeting, worked a half-mile in 49 seconds Thursday.

Trained by John Sadler, Victory Encounter is being prepared for the $250,000 Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 1/16 miles July 11.