06/02/2005 11:00PM

Singhalese can end Cassidy doldrums


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The ongoing nightmare of 2005 can end for trainer Jim Cassidy on Sunday.

Through Thursday, Cassidy has just 1 victory from 41 starters this year. Some of his pre-season hopes were dashed, and others have yet to work out.

Ticker Tape, a finalist for the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding turf female of 2004, has made only one start, finishing last of seven in the Comp USA Turf Mile at Churchill Downs on May 7. Some of Cassidy's European imports from late 2004 were sent to trainer Wally Dollase after a breakup with owner Jim Ford.

A recent arrival, though, could give the stable a breakthrough performance Sunday. Singhalese, the winner of a handicap race for 2-year-olds last September in England, makes her second start in the U.S. when she runs in the $175,000 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at Hollywood Park.

A top-three finish could give Singhalese an invitation to the $750,000 American Oaks on July 3, a race that Cassidy won in 2004 with Ticker Tape.

"It's been a little on the rough side," Cassidy said of 2005. "But if this filly shows up, and Ticker Tape shows up. . ."

Ticker Tape will return in the Royal Heroine Stakes on July 3, and the stable has a promising group of 2-year-olds, he said.

Cassidy said he is optimistic that Singhalese can be successful in the 3-year-old filly turf division this year. In her lone start since being acquired by the Gould Family Trust, she finished fourth by 3 1/2 lengths after a poor start in the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes at Santa Anita in April.

Mike Smith, who was aboard for that race, retains the mount Sunday.

"Mike said that if he hadn't been eliminated at the gate, we would have been right there," Cassidy said. "She arrived three days before the Providencia. After that, I gave her some time so she could settle in a little bit. I don't think there will be a distance question."

A to the Z tests positive

A to the Z, a top California-bred turf miler, tested positive for an excessive amount of clenbuterol, following a runner-up finish in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita on Jan. 29, according to a complaint published on the California Horse Racing Board's website.

The complaint stated that A to the Z's urine sample was found to be positive in a post-race test conducted at UC-Davis. A second test conducted at Industrial Laboratories confirmed the finding of the initial test, the complaint stated. No hearing date has been scheduled for the case.

A 5-year-old gelding, A to the Z earned $100,000 for the runner-up finish to Star Over the Bay. A to the Z is owned by the husband-wife team of Andy and Paula Capestro and trained by Paula Capestro. Thursday, Paula Capestro said that her husband was handling the legal aspect of the case.

"It's a case I'm going to fight," Paula Capestro said.

Clenbuterol is a bronchodilator allowed to appear in post-race tests at minute levels. Because it is classified as a class 3 medication, recent positive tests for clenbuterol have resulted in a redistribution of purses and fines or suspensions for the trainers.

New state steward named

Kim Sawyer, the recently appointed state steward at Thistledown in Ohio, has been appointed state steward for the upcoming Del Mar meeting. Sawyer will be joined at Del Mar by Dennis Nevin and George Slender. She will also serve as a steward during the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, which begins in late September, and the Hollywood Park fall meeting.

Three California stewards, including two at the major Southern California tracks, were informed by the California Horse Racing Board last week that they would be dismissed.

Sawyer, a 53-year-old native of California, is a former jockey who also worked as an outrider and assistant trainer. She began working in the Thistledown racing secretary's office in 1992 and worked her way up to placing judge, paddock judge, and alternate steward. In 2000 she became a full-time steward. Following the resignation of Allen Fairbanks at the end of 2004, she accepted the state steward position at Thistledown.

Ingrid Fermin, CHRB executive director, offered Sawyer the California job about 10 days ago, Sawyer said.

"I feel bad about leaving," Sawyer said. "I was really pleased and amazed the opportunity came so quickly."

Megahertz may challenge males

Megahertz, who was held out of the Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap last Monday after trainer Bobby Frankel said he was unsatisfied with her weight assignment, may start against males in Saturday's $350,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap.

Assistant trainer Humberto Ascanio said on Friday that Megahertz "is ready to go" if the decision is made to start her.

Megahertz was assigned top weight of 124 pounds for the Gamely. She would receive less in the Whittingham since she would be facing males.

The Grade 1 Whittingham is run over 1 1/4 miles on turf.

The other top contenders include Red Fort, second in the Inglewood Handicap on April 30; Pellegrino, the winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup last December; and Stanley Park, who won the Grade 2 San Luis Rey over 1 1/2 miles on turf in March.

Megahertz finished second against males in the Hollywood Turf Cup last December, rallying from last of nine to miss by a head.

The Frankel stable will run Louvain in the Honeymoon on Sunday. Unraced since winning the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes here last November, Louvain was battling a cough earlier this week, but was declared fit to race on Friday morning.

- additional reportingby Tim Scaravilli