12/05/2006 12:00AM

No Mentira injects fun into Weeks's life


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Earlier this year, owner Stephen Weeks decided to re-evaluate his involvement in horse racing. Out went his status as a breeder, replaced by a desire to have more horses racing on a regular basis.

"I went into breeding for a while," he said Tuesday morning. "Shoot me if I do that again. It wasn't as much fun. I like the racing. I like the claiming."

Last month, Weeks bought into the partnership that owns the promising 2-year-old gelding No Mentira, who scored a flashy maiden win during the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

No Mentira, trained by Ruben Cardenas, makes his first start against winners in an optional claimer for California-breds at 6o1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park on Thursday.

The $43,000 race could serve as a prep for two lucrative restricted stakes in coming weeks - the $125,000 California Breeders Champion Stakes at seven furlongs at Santa Anita on Dec. 26 and the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Dash for California-breds and Florida-breds at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 27.

By High Brite, No Mentira has started twice. He finished second in a maiden race for California-breds on Sept. 30 before returning to win by eight lengths as the odds-on favorite in a six-furlong race on Oct. 20.

"He just tucks his head down and runs," Weeks said. "There have been a lot of offers on this horse. We all want to see what we have and have some fun."

Through the years, Weeks has owned such prominent local horses as Islander, Moore's Flat, and Stoney. He is hoping that No Mentira develops into a stakes-caliber runner in his next few starts.

"We aren't pushing the horse," Weeks said. "We allowed some time between races. I think Ruben is doing a really good job of pacing the horse and planning a campaign."

Purchased for just $13,000 at the Barretts summer sale earlier this year, No Mentira has six rivals on Thursday, including the entry of Indian Ashton and Summer News, and the stakes-placed runner Street Lights.

Indian Ashton and Summer News are trained by Wesley Ward. Indian Ashton won the first maiden race for juveniles at the Del Mar meeting in July but has not started since.

Street Lights was second in the I'm Smokin Stakes for statebreds at Del Mar in September, and subsequently was second in an allowance race as a heavy favorite and a troubled seventh in the Pinjara Stakes on turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 26.

Ball Four seems to love synthetic

Ball Four's tour of the nation's synthetic surfaces continues on Sunday when the 5-year-old gelding starts as the 119-pound topweight in the $100,000 Native Diver Handicap at 1o1/8 miles.

So far this fall, Ball Four has displayed outstanding form on Polytrack surfaces in Kentucky. The Grade 3 Native Diver will be his first start on Hollywood Park's synthetic surface, Cushion Track. Trainer Patrick Biancone has emphasized racing his stable on synthetic tracks this year.

In Kentucky, Ball Four pulled a 12-1 upset in the Grade 2 Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park on Sept.o30 and returned to run a game second to Eccentric in the Grade 3 Fayette Stakes at Keeneland on Oct.o28.

"He's not a Grade 1 horse, but he's very competitive in Grade 2 and Grade 3" races, Biancone said.

Ball Four does not need to be of Grade 1 quality to win the Native Diver. The other probable starters are Flamethrowintexan, Molengao, Saint Stephen, Southern Africa, Spellbinder, and Truly a Judge.

Ball Four is a front-runner, as is Flamethrowintexan, who won the Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap on turf on Oct. 28. Trained by Jim Penney, Flamethrowintexan won the Grade 3 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs in August.

Biancone said that Ball Four "likes to run free. He runs roughly the same all the time. He's a workhorse."

Large field likely for Turf Cup

Biancone will start Cosmonaut in Saturday's $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup, a Grade 1 at 1 1/2 miles.

The race lacks a standout, but is expected to draw at least nine runners - Artiste Royale, Baby First, Boboman, Meteor Storm, Mighty Mysterious, Runaway Dancer, Symphony Sid, and T. H. Approval.

Symphony Sid won the Grade 3 Carleton Burke Handicap at Santa Anita in his last start in October, while T. H. Approval was eighth in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.

Cosmonaut won the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on a soft turf course at Arlington Park in July, but has lost his last four starts. He was fourth in the Grade 1 Citation Handicap here on Nov. 24.

The race will not include Notable Guest, a Group 3 stakes winner in England in 2005 who recently joined trainer Bobby Frankel's stable. Frankel said on Tuesday he did not have a plan for Notable Guest's next start.

Foxysox may target La Brea

Foxysox, the winner of the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap last Sunday in her first start on the main track, may make her next start on dirt as well, in the $250,000 La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs at Santa Anita on Dec. 30, trainer Carla Gaines said.

Foxysox won three stakes on turf earlier this year before being tried on the main track in the Bayakoa. Gaines and owner Warren Williamson are hoping to run Foxysox in the three-race La Canada series for 4-year-olds of 2007, which also includes the $150,000 El Encino Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 14 and the $200,000 La Canada Stakes at 1o1/8 miles on Feb. 11.

Proud Tower Too getting in shape

Proud Tower Too, unraced since winning the $2 million Golden Shaheen Sprint in Dubai in March, worked three furlongs in 38.80 seconds on Tuesday, his first work since returning to training following surgery to have a bone chip removed from an ankle.

Owned by Daniel Cardenas's Tricar Stable and trained by Sal Gonzalez, Proud Tower Too beat Thor's Echo in the Golden Shaheen. In November, Thor's Echo vaulted to the top of the nation's sprint division with wins in the Breeders' Cup Sprint and Frank De Francis Memorial Dash.