07/26/2006 11:00PM

Several try to rebound in Wickerr


DEL MAR, Calif. - The $85,000 Wickerr Handicap at Del Mar on Saturday might as well be known as the Regrouping Stakes. Several leading contenders are seeking to rebound from recent losses in the one-mile turf stakes.

Captain Squire, the 119-pound topweight, finished a game second in the Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap at Hollywood Park on June 10, his first start since finishing fourth in the Golden Shaheen Stakes in Dubai in March.

Spellbinder, the winner of the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita in February, was entered for the San Diego Handicap on July 22, but was withdrawn after a bout with stomach cramps the day before the race.

Unfurl the Flag finished third in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 2, his fifth consecutive loss.

Skipaslew, the winner of the Santana Mile at Santa Anita in March, and Becrux, who won a division of the 2005 Oceanside Stakes, are also trying to rebound from recent losses.

The 10-horse field in the Wickerr includes three horses coming off a win.

Cervelo won the Band Is Passing Stakes at Calder on June 18 and will be making his first start for trainer Mike Puype. We All Love Aleyna won an $80,000 claimer at Hollywood Park on June 4, the day he was taken by trainer Mike Mitchell. Stormin Away won an allowance race at Hollywood Park on June 8.

The race should be run at an honest pace. Unfurl the Flag has ample speed, which should allow him to stay in front of Captain Squire and Stormin Away, both trained by Jeff Mullins.

Unfurl the Flag and Spellbinder are unproven on turf, each having lost two starts on the surface.

Spellbinder has not run on turf since finishing fifth in an optional claimer at Santa Anita in March 2005. Trainer Richard Mandella says that the 5-year-old Spellbinder "has been a better horse for a while."

"I'd liked to have run him in the San Diego," Mandella said. "I know he's good at middle distances on the dirt, and I don't see any reason he wouldn't run on the turf.

"If he runs well, I'd like to run him in the turf mile," Mandella said, referring to the $400,000 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Mile on Aug. 26. "It will be interesting to see if he can adapt."