11/22/2001 1:00AM

A second chance for bettors to cash on Cerin longshot

Email

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - As much as trainer Vladimir Cerin would like to forget the 2000 Hollywood Derby, it still pops up in occasional conversations.

Last November, the Cerin-trained Designed for Luck was first past the wire at 58-1, but was disqualified for causing interference in deep stretch.

"I've had people as recently as two months ago show me the tickets from that race," Cerin said. "It's like they want me to pay them. There's no reason to carry those tickets. Maybe they want to commiserate. It's history."

Disgruntled bettors will have another chance to score with a Cerin longshot when Learing at Kathy starts in Sunday's $500,000 Hollywood Derby. Like Designed for Luck, Learing at Kathy is owned by David and Holly Wilson and is considered an outsider in a large, well-matched field.

A gelding, Learing at Kathy has yet to win on turf, but placed in two graded turf stakes here last spring.

He was third at 8-1 in the Grade 3 Will Rogers Handicap on April 20, missing by a head to Media Mogul and Dr. Park, who finished in a dead heat. In the Grade 3 Cinema Handicap on May 20, he finished second to Sligo Bay after leading in deep stretch.

"He was unlucky to lose both," Cerin said. "[In the Cinema], he thought he'd won and Sligo Bay blew by him. He fell asleep."

Learing at Kathy was off for five months - Cerin says he was recovering from a tough spring campaign - before finishing fourth in the restricted Bien Bien Stakes on Nov. 7. The race was won by Mizzen Mast, one of four colts trained by Bobby Frankel in Sunday's derby, a group that includes Denon, Blue Steller, and Aldebaran.

"He just got tired," Cerin said of Learing at Kathy's performance in the Bien Bien Stakes. "I don't think there are any fantastic standouts in this race although Frankel's horse ran well on opening day."

After a workout last Sunday, Pincay urged Cerin to add blinkers, which Learing at Kathy will wear for the first time in his 12-race career on Sunday.

But Pincay will not be aboard. He retained the mount on Sligo Bay, leaving Jose Valdivia Jr. to ride Learing at Kathy for the first time.

Big races draw overflow fields

The field for both of Sunday's $500,000 races - the Hollywood Derby and the Matriarch Stakes for fillies and mares - were oversubscribed when entries were drawn on Thursday.

There were 17 entries in the derby, but only 14 will start. The Frankel-trained entry of Denon and Aldebaran may be a slight favorite. Sigfreto, Momentum and Reduit are on the also-eligible list.

The Matriarch, run over 1 1/8 miles, drew 15, with Tout Charmant, the defending champion, the lone mare on the also-eligible list. The criteria for getting into the field is group or graded stakes wins or placings this year. In three starts, Tout Charmant has run fourth in the Las Palmas and the Winstar Galaxy Stakes, and fifth in the Palomar Handicap.

The likely favorite is Golden Apples, the winner of the Las Palmas Handicap and Del Mar Oaks. Spook Express, who was second in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, will be well-backed.

Cajun Flash goes for four in row

In Saturday's $75,000 Safely Kept Handicap, Cajun Flash will attempt to stretch her winning streak to four in a field that includes two European imports trained by Bobby Frankel, the speedy Fair Apache and Sea of Ice, a course specialist.

Cajun Flash makes her stakes debut for trainer Julio Canani. A front-runner, she drew the rail and figures to be challenged early by Fair Apache, who is drawn in post 2.

Frankel starts Twin Set, who is on a five-race winning streak, and Rolly Polly, a stakes winner at Newbury, England, last April.

Early Pioneer retires

Early Pioneer, the upset winner of the 2000 Hollywood Gold Cup, has been retired following a recent tendon injury, Cerin said.

A 6-year-old, Early Pioneer made his last start in the Ack Ack Stakes at Hollywood Park last July, finishing seventh.

The Gold Cup was the final win of his career, which he finished with 9 wins from 33 starts and earnings of $1,156,815. Minor injuries kept him on the sidelines for much of the last year.

Early Pioneer was in top form in the spring and early summer of 2000, a span that included a win in the San Bernardino Handicap at Santa Anita.

Owned by the Wilsons, Early Pioneer was recently sent to their farm near Phoenix, Cerin said.