09/06/2004 12:00AM

Spinster may be Adoration's BC Distaff prep


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Adoration, a sharp winner of the Arlington Matron Handicap here at Arlington last Saturday, left Chicago on Monday to return home to Hollywood Park, and trainer David Hofmans, pleased with the entire venture, said Adoration appeared to have come out of the race in good physical condition.

Adoration shipped well, came into the Matron without a hitch, and got precisely the kind of trip her connections desired. Adoration hadn't raced in about three months, and the last thing Hofmans wanted in her first start back was a gut-wrenching race. Adoration made a clear lead without having to run too fast, and was only challenged three furlongs from the finish. So, Adoration put in a nice little run coming off the far turn and into midstretch, and after she had put away a promising filly named Tamweel, her work was done.

"She was already totally cooled out by the time I got back to the test barn," Hofmans said Monday. "She looks fine."

Adoration will make one more start before she goes to Lone Star Park to defend her title in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, and though Hofmans has not finalized plans, he seems to be leaning toward the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes at Keeneland. Adoration's other option is the Lady's Secret at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meet, but that race is at 1 1/16 miles. The Spinster is at 1 1/8 miles, Adoration's preferred trip, and the distance of the Breeders' Cup.

Tamweel, who was making her graded stakes debut, ran well in defeat, coming up to Adoration's flank on the far turn before the winner kicked away.

"I'm not disappointed in her whatsoever," said trainer Wayne Catalano.

Tamweel also could wind up in the Breeders' Cup, perhaps even in her next start.

"I can't come back in three weeks, then come back in three weeks again," Catalano said. "I wouldn't be afraid to go straight to the [Breeders' Cup]."

Flower Bowl next for Crimson Palace

Crimson Palace, winner of the Beverly D. Handicap in her last start, is scheduled to make her next start in the Oct. 2 Flower Bowl Handicap at Belmont Park. A South African-bred purchased privately by Godolphin Racing last year, Crimson Palace took advantage of a perfect trip to spring an upset in the Grade 1 Beverly D.

She and several other Godolphin-owned horses remained at Arlington following the International Festival of Racing, but the entire contingent departs Wednesday.

Adrian Dore, a Godolphin assistant, told the Arlington publicity staff Monday that Godolphin officials "haven't told us plans for the rest of the horses, other than the fact that they are all going to New York."

Shadwell Mile intrigues Stidham

There still are no firm plans for Herculated, an impressive winner of the Sea o'Erin Breeders' Cup Handicap in his last start. Herculated had foot problems for much of the early summer, but has continued thriving since his win here last month, according to trainer Mike Stidham. Still, Stidham isn't ready to commit to a race, though he did say the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland is a possibility.

The Stidham barn, which won an overnight turf stakes Saturday with On the Course, might also have a horse for the the Arlington-Washington Lassie here Sept. 19. Culinary won a one-mile maiden race by double-digit lengths last month, and would figure to be a contender in the Lassie if her connections choose to run. A start in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies also is possible.

Chilean import overdue to win

There are seven horses in Wednesday's featured eighth race, a second-level allowance at one mile on dirt. Vecchia Cita hasn't won a race since the summer of 2003, when she still was racing in her native Chile, but she might be the best of the bunch.

Owned by Brian Villardito, and trained by Marco Salazar, Vecchia Cita was laid off between August 2003 and January of this year, and she did not show much in her U.S. debut, finishing fifth in a Hawthorne allowance race. But a month later at Gulfstream Park, Vecchia Cita hinted at talent, finishing second in a greatly improved effort.

Then she went to the sidelines for several more months, and when she returned this summer, Vecchia Cita again "needed" her comeback race. She was fifth here July 5, but improved to second 18 days later, and was beaten a neck Aug. 21 in her best effort since being imported. Vecchia Cita has a stalking style that could play well in a field with some pace, and she looks like the most likely winner. Birthday Song and Speak Easy could provide the stiffest opposition.

* Veteran agent Tom Morgan has begun booking mounts for the 10-pound apprentice rider Freddie Fong. Morgan, who also represent journeyman Carlos Silva, had booked mounts for Cruz Contreras, who left for Mexico last weekend.