08/30/2004 11:00PM

Reasons to like 'Hollywood'


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - There's plenty of speed in Thursday's Woodbine feature, a $62,500 optional claimer on the grass, which could set up things for a stalking Hollywood Ending.

Hollywood Ending has won two of nine starts this year for trainer Lorne Richards, who has won with 13 of his 38 starters at the Woodbine meeting. Both of Hollywood Ending's scores came against $50,000 claimers at 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track.

Hollywood Ending has done most of her optimum running on the dirt, but her career-high Beyer Figure of 88 was earned on the grass. In her only turf attempt this year on July 23, she was second in an $80,000 optional claimer. Third-place finisher Askforaraise came out of that race to beat $80,000 opposition.

Jim McAleney has the mount on Hollywood Ending, a 6-year-old with nearly $400,000 in earnings. McAleney and Richards have compiled a superb record when they've teamed up at this meet, winning with 10 of 25 starters.

Cricket Wicket, Crimson Courtier, and Swift of Flight would all prefer to be on the lead in this six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares.

Cricket Wicket ended up fifth after blowing the turn two starts back in the restricted Rainbow Connection Stakes at Fort Erie. Most recently here, over a hard course that favored speed, she wired $40,000 conditioned claimers, scoring by 7 1/2 lengths over a mediocre field.

Crimson Courtier hasn't won since she captured an allowance race in the spring of 2003, although she finished third twice at the second allowance level early this summer. She set sizzling fractions last time out, in Hollywood Ending's latest turf venture, before fading badly in the stretch.

Swift of Flight battled on the early lead before edging away in the stretch for a daylight triumph over allowance foes Aug. 22. She's stuck on the also-eligible list here.

Bold Artic Ice won her maiden on the lead in her season opener, going six furlongs on the turf, but came from just off the pace to take the five-furlong Rainbow Connection in her next-to-last start. Last time in a second-level allowance, she failed to stay seven furlongs after setting moderate fractions, but salvaged third.

Ariel's Melody, winner of the 2002 Victoriana Stakes, is looking to end a long drought. She outran Bold Artic Ice for second after pressing the pace, and was second the only time she tried three-quarters on the grass.