07/12/2002 12:00AM

San Diego siphons some handicap talent

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - There are as many top older horses waiting for the San Diego Handicap next month at Del Mar as there are starting in Sunday's $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup at Hollywood Park.

The two races may be three weeks apart, but the presence of both has split the male handicap division.

Horses such as Congaree, the winner of the Lone Star Park Handicap in May, and Redattore, the winner of the San Antonio Handicap in February, would fit against Milwaukee Brew, Momentum, and Sky Jack in the Gold Cup, which is run over 1 1/4 miles.

But their connections are waiting for the $250,000 San Diego Handicap, which is run over 1 1/16 miles and is a prep to the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 25. The San Diego probables also include Mizzen Mast, the winner of the Strub Stakes in February; as well as Bosque Redondo, Palmeiro, and Investor's Dream.

"I think the San Diego may be tougher than the Gold Cup," said Craig Lewis, who will start the longshot Hot Market.

Some San Diego contenders, such as Mizzen Mast, are returning from layoffs, which would make the 1 1/4 miles of the Gold Cup a difficult test. Plus, Mizzen Mast is trained by Bobby Frankel, who starts Milwaukee Brew in the Gold Cup. In addition, trainer John Sadler feels Palmeiro, the winner of the All-American Handicap at Bay Meadows on June 8, is better suited to 1 1/16 miles.

If similar circumstances had occurred last year, both horses might have started in the Bel Air Handicap over 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood Park in July, a race that was discontinued this year because of small fields.

Add Hot Market to San Diego field

Hot Market was declared a candidate for the San Diego Handicap following his front-running victory in a $64,900 allowance race on Thursday.

Sent off as the slight favorite, Hot Market set quick fractions of 22.21 seconds, 44.58, and 1:08.87, pulling away to finish 2 1/2 lengths in front of Slewston. Hot Market finished 7 1/2 furlongs around one turn on dirt in 1:28.35.

Sidelined by a sesamoid injury in February 2001, Hot Market returned to racing earlier this year at Santa Anita. A 4-year-old owned by John Harris and Per Antonsen, Hot Market has made six starts this year and won three of his last four.

"When he was a 3-year-old, I thought he was a very promising horse," Lewis said. "The kind of injury he had is difficult to come back from, but he's gotten more confident now."

Another $1 million guaranteed pick six

For the second consecutive weekend, Hollywood Park is offering a guaranteed pick six of $1 million for Sunday's Gold Cup program. On July 6, a guaranteed pool was offered on the American Oaks program; the final pool reached $1,157,317.

Sunday's bet covers races 5 through 10 and starts with the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup.

The sixth race is a maiden race on turf, which drew 13 entrants but will have only 12 starters. Pacific Colony, second in a maiden turf race on June 13, is the likely favorite.

An allowance for California-bred sprinters is the seventh race. The Mobile Man starts for trainer Jack Carava and has the experience of a sprint win at this meeting on May 26.

The eighth race is run over 1 1/16 miles on turf for $40,000 claimers and drew an oversubscribed field. Typical of this class, this race has many contenders, including Dream Weekend and Scoring Slew, who have run well at this level this year. Gentle Giant will attract support, dropping from an allowance race.

The $200,000 A Gleam Handicap for fillies and mares over seven furlongs is the ninth race. Kalookan Queen will be favored against a large field, but must contend with Collect Call, Irguns Angel, Queen of Wilshire, Rolly Polly, and Secret Liaison, all of whom have won or placed in stakes this year.

The last race is for turf maidens over 1 1/16 miles. Chapeau, Prisa, and Violins, who have placed in turf maiden races, will be well-backed.

Ocean Sound back in training

Ocean Sound, who was third in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes in April but unplaced in the Kentucky Derby, has resumed training.

Trainer Jim Cassidy said Ocean Sound is being pointed for a late summer or early fall return after going out of training two months ago because of a cracked bone in his left shin. Ocean Sound finished 17th in a field of 18 in the Kentucky Derby. Overall, the Irish-bred Ocean Sound has one victory in 13 starts, a maiden race in Scotland at 2. He is winless in five starts for a partnership, but was second in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in March.

Cassidy said Ocean Sound is in light training and is likely to resume racing on turf.

"If I get something at the end of Del Mar, so be it," Cassidy said. "Oak Tree would be a good place to start."

Stakes rich weekend

The Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting closes on July 21, but there are stakes from Friday through Sunday next weekend.

The restricted Valkyr Stakes for California-bred females over a mile on turf is Friday's feature race.

The $100,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship over six furlongs on Saturday is the main race for 2-year-olds at the meeting. The stakes winners Crowned Dancer and Oberwald lead the field.

Next Sunday's closing day is highlighted by the $200,000 Sunset Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf.