Updated on 09/17/2011 10:58AM

Solar Fire, 'Lucky' look for first wins


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - When 2-year-old maidens are running on turf, it means the end of the meet is at hand. Inventive racing secretary Martin Panza carded two turf sprints Thursday at Hollywood Park, giving horsemen an option of running in an easy spot now or waiting until the competition grows intense when Del Mar opens next week.

Maiden sprints at Del Mar annually bring out the best of the 2-year-old division.

On Thursday, seven fillies entered race 1, at 5 1/2 furlongs; a field of eight colts entered race 3 at the same distance. The maiden races kick off a card that includes four turf races, including a $40,000 claimer for 3-year-old fillies (race 5) and a wide-open allowance race for California-bred fillies and mares.

First things first. Solar Fire was soundly defeated at odds of 17-1 in her June 12 debut, but her third-place finish does not tell the whole story. Solar Fire did not break well, unleashed a huge middle move, then flattened out. It was a better-than-it-looked effort, and the filly may only require a clean break to win for trainer Jenine Sahadi. Her main rivals include second-time starter Awesome Lady and improving Klassy Katlyn.

The colts in race 3 are tougher. Lucky Pulpit, trained by Cliff Sise, finished 6 1/2 lengths clear of third in his June 22 debut, but he was more than four lengths behind the winner, who was timed in an ordinary 58.41 seconds for the five furlongs.

Lucky Pulpit should improve Thursday. He was produced by a mare sired by Cozzene, so he has plenty turf potential in his pedigree. His main rivals include Trail Mix, a California-bred who finished third in his debut, and first-time starter Minister Eric, trained by Richard Mandella.

With a $51,000 purse, race 7 is the richest on the card - though most of the Cal-breds in the mile turf race have peaked. The race, a one-other-than/optional $40,000 claimer, is a likely spot for comebacker Icee Cheaspeake.

Owned and bred by Paul and Mary Nicolette, Icee Cheaspeake is the only starter who has won at the first-condition Cal-bred level, and is eligible only because she is offered for a $40,000 tag. Marty Jones trains the 4-year-old filly. Icee Cheaspeake has run well fresh in the past and figures to get a good trip pressing slow fractions. Her rivals include Shred the Excess, Thermostatic, Ardum Relaunch, and Bay Meadows shippers China Princess and Wait'tilotisseesus.