12/11/2007 12:00AM

Nashoba's Key still on the fence

EmailNGLEWOOD, Calif. - Entries for the Grade 2, $150,000 Dahlia Handicap on Sunday will be taken at Hollywood Park on Thursday morning, and it looks like trainer Carla Gaines is going to tiptoe right up to the deadline to decide whether or not to run Nashoba's Key in the 1 1/16-mile race for female turf runners.

"The first time she was going to run on Cushion Track, I waited until 11 that morning," Gaines said Tuesday morning at Hollywood Park. "I'm a woman. I change my mind." She paused, laughed, then said, "It's probably why I'm not married."

Gaines is torn between running in the Dahlia or waiting until the Grade 2, $150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap at Santa Anita on Jan. 6. The San Gorgonio, however, is a mere 20 days in front of the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita, in which Nashoba's Key would be a heavy favorite.

"I'm not sure I want to run her three weeks in front of the Sunshine Millions," Gaines said. "She's fresh."

Nashoba's Key was unbeaten until suffering the first loss of her career on soft turf in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Monmouth Park. She was a stakes winner on synthetic surfaces and turf this year, but may lose out on Eclipse Awards to specialists like Lahudood and Ginger Punch.

Gaines also is considering running Foxysox in the Dahlia. Like Nashoba's Key, Foxysox is owned by Warren Williamson.

In addition to those two, the Dahlia is expected to include Black Mamba, Hucking Hot, Marietta, Meribel, and Trick's Pic. Citronnade and Memorette are possible.

"I'll either run her there or wait for the race at Santa Anita," Citronnade's trainer, Bobby Frankel, said Tuesday. Citronnade worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 on Monday.

Marietta worked five furlongs in 59.20 seconds on Cushion Track on Tuesday morning for trainer Eoin Harty. The time was the fastest of 65 at the distance.

Nashoba's Key was assigned top weight of 123 pounds for the Dahlia, one more than Citronnade. Foxysox is next at 118.

Foxysox ready for comeback

Gaines is eager to get Foxysox back to the races for the first time since March, when she finished last in the Santa Ana Handicap at Santa Anita. A year ago, Foxysox won the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap on Cushion Track, and she is also a three-time stakes winner on turf. Foxysox looks like a different horse than earlier this year, when she was decidedly thinner.

"You usually see a metamorphosis from 3 to 4, or from 2 to 3, but not from a 4-year-old about to turn 5," Gaines said. "She's not the same horse. I hope the way she races mirrors that."

Foxysox got an extended vacation because of a lingering foot problem.

"She grabbed a quarter, we battled it, and then it turned into a quarter crack, but it was too far back on the foot to patch it, so we had to train her in a Z-bar shoe," Gaines said, referring to a protective horseshoe. "We probably spent a couple of months fighting that foot.

"And then in the race at Santa Anita, she broke awkwardly and tore the shoe off. I think that was a higher power saying she's ready for a break. As it turned out, it did her a world of good. Sometimes their bodies just need rest, just like any athlete."

Nine set for Starlet

Nine 2-year-old fillies, headed by the Alcibiades Stakes winner, Country Star, were expected to be entered on Wednesday for Saturday's Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet, whose purse, guaranteed at $250,000, is expected to swell to more than $400,000 with five supplemental entries, including Country Star.

Country Star has raced just twice, but already is considered one of the elite of her division. She was second in a maiden race on turf at Belmont Park before winning the Alcibiades at Keeneland two weeks later.

Frankel, her trainer, decided to bypass the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, even though Country Star would have been in the running for an Eclipse Award.

"I think she's got a big future," Frankel said. "I didn't want to run her three times in five weeks.

"And even if she was entered, I never would have run her on that kind of track," he said, referring to the sloppy conditions at Monmouth.

Instead, Country Star came to Hollywood Park. Those racing against her, and considering betting against her, are forewarned.

"She's doing great," Frankel said emphatically. "She looks unbelievable."

Others expected for the 1 1/16-mile Starlet are Foxy Danseur, Grace Anatomy, Grace and Power, Initiation, Spritely, Sunday Geisha, The Golden Noodle, and Time Reveals All.

Grace and Power, second in the Selima Stakes at Laurel in her last start, is expected to fly here Thursday from Fair Hill, Md., where she is based with trainer Steve Klesaris.

Three horses euthanized

Three horses were euthanized on Tuesday morning at Hollywood Park as a result of injuries sustained either galloping or during workouts.

Wise Mandate, trained by Mel Stute, broke down shortly after completing a six-furlong drill in 1:13.80. According to Stute's son, Gary, Wise Mandate broke his sesamoids.

Wise Mandate finished last in the California Cup Juvenile on Nov. 3.

* Shore Do, preparing for next week's CashCall Futurity, worked six furlongs on Tuesday in 1:11.80 for Frankel, who has taken over as the colt's trainer from Chuck Peery.

* On Monday, Colonel John (six furlongs, 1:11), Into Mischief (seven furlongs, 1:26), Massive Drama (six furlongs, 1:10.60), and Old Man Buck (five furlongs, 1:01.80) turned in works for the Dec. 22 Futurity.

* Also working Monday was Indian Blessing, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner, who went six furlongs in 1:12.

* Trainer Melody Conlon was fined $300 for failing to properly report the gelding of Tommys Luck before the sixth race on Nov. 21.

* The Lava Man DVD that was given away as a promotional item on Saturday will be on sale the rest of the meet at Hollywood Park for $10, with all proceeds going to Noe Garcia, who was Lava Man's groom until his left arm was severed in a car accident over the summer.