07/14/2006 12:00AM

T. H. Approval in a good spot


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - A puzzling field of turf horses are running in the Grade 2 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park on Sunday, closing day of the spring-summer meet.

Del Mar opens Wednesday.

There are no standouts among the 10 horses in the 1 1/2-mile Sunset, but the card does include at least one equine star - Declan's Moon, the undefeated champion 2-year-old of 2004 who makes his first start in more than a year in an allowance sprint that goes as race 1.

The Sunset is race 9, and it drew a modest cast from a weak California turf division. Grade 1 turf winner Lava Man went back to dirt; King's Drama and Atlando are sidelined; Red Fort and The Tin Man are headed to Arlington. Meanwhile, T. H. Approval is the only Sunset starter with a recent stakes win. He won the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano in April, and has a running style that suits the Sunset pace.

Two front-runners are entered - miler Wild Buddy and comebacker Leprechaun Kid. While both are vulnerable, Wild Buddy's classified allowance win in his last start and a neck loss in a Grade 2 race at 1 1/2 miles last fall make him a contender. Leprechaun Kid runs for the first time since finishing 10th in the Breeders' Cup Turf in October.

The Sunset field also includes Runaway Dancer, a closer who has tailed off. He finished in a dead heat for second in last year's Sunset.

Molengao finished sixth as a 60-1 longshot behind Lava Man last out and appears outclassed, although the probable pace benefits his off-the-pace style.

The same applies to T. H. Approval, a dead-heat second-place finisher with Runaway Dancer in last year's Sunset. T. H. Approval looms the favorite despite a seventh-place comeback in a race that set up wrong for him.

"He was too close to a slow pace," trainer Eduardo Inda said.

best efforts have come when he rallies from behind.

A five-time winner and earner of $564,288 in 23 starts, T. H. Approval is reunited with rider Alex Solis.

has a chance to steal it if it he can shake away from Grade 2 winner Leprechaun Kid, a 7-year-old.

"I've trained for this race since the beginning of the meet," said Mike Mitchell, trainer of Wild Buddy. "I think he's ready."

, Jon Court rides Wild Buddy, and Tyler rides Runaway Dancer.

Outsiders include Sam Forli, Sultry Bard, Mino Ona, Mighty Mysterious, and Mr. Splash.