12/10/2001 12:00AM

'Tali' can relate to Rodney Dangerfield

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - *, the 2-year-old filly who starts in Sunday's Hollywood Starlet Stakes, is a Grade 1 winner in need of respect.

Her victory in the Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita in late September was tainted by the late scratch of top contender Habibti, the winner of the Del Mar Debutante who later finished seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Belmont Park.

Tali'sluckybusride never left California this fall. She needed to be supplemented to the Juvenile Fillies, but her connections - owners Ron and Susie Anson - focused instead on the Starlet.

It could have been a mistake to pass the Breeders' Cup. The form of the Oak Leaf Stakes was flattered when runner-up Imperial Gesture finished second in the Juvenile Fillies. Still, Tali'sluckybusride will be overlooked in the betting for the Starlet, which will be dominated by You, the New York stakes winner trained by Bobby Frankel.

Tali'sluckybusride will earn plenty of respect if she wins. Trainer Alfredo Marquez says his filly is ready and that she has thrived with the recent break.

"I've been waiting for this for two months," Marquez said. "We want to find out what we've got. I've got a lot of confidence in this filly.

"This is the right time of year for her because she's matured a lot. She was full of herself in the beginning, but she's more relaxed. After the last race, she settled down."

On Sunday, Tali'sluckybusride worked three furlongs in 37 seconds from the gate.

"I just wanted to school her in the gate and got something out of her," Marquez said. "She was getting too sharp."

Tali'sluckybusride will be ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr., who was aboard for Sunday's workout and the win in the Oak Leaf Stakes. Aside from You and Habibti, other probables include Renaissance Woman and Respectful.

Spain takes a pass on Bayakoa

There are three major stakes on Saturday - the Hollywood Futurity and a pair of Grade 2 stakes for females over 1 1/16 miles: the Bayakoa on dirt and the Dahlia Handicap on turf.

The Futurity field is expected to include Brigadier Jones, Fonz's, Hawk's Top Gun, Labamta Babe, Mountain Rage, Popular, Publication, Siphonic, and Yougottawanna. Siphonic, who was third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, is the likely favorite.

In the Bayakoa, Tranquility Lake and Feverish will be a powerful entry. They will face a field expected to include Cee Dreams, Favorite Funtime, Queenie Belle, Starrer, and Tropical Lady. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Spain will pass in favor of the Santa Monica Handicap at Santa Anita in late January.

Heads Will Roll, the winner of the Matiara Stakes last month, will start in the Dahlia for Frankel against Vencera and Kalatiara.

'Squirtle' points for Palos Verdes

*, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Sprint and a top candidate for the Eclipse Award for that division, may reappear next month at Santa Anita, Frankel said.

Squirtle Squirt, who worked a half-mile in 48.80 seconds on Sunday, is being pointed for the $150,000 Palos Verdes Handicap over six furlongs on Jan. 27.

After the Breeders' Cup, Frankel had mentioned the $2 million Golden Shaheen Sprint in Dubai as a long-term objective, but was cool to that idea on Sunday.

"I don't know if I'll go to Dubai," he said. "I don't know what I'll do."

Valenzuela awaits decision

Patrick Valenzuela, who has not ridden in almost two years, met with California Horse Racing Board executive director Roy Wood on Sunday in the hope of regaining a jockey's license that will allow him to resume his troubled riding career.

Valenzuela, whose career has been plagued by substance abuse problems, is hoping to ride at Santa Anita when that meeting starts on Dec. 26.

On Sunday, Valenzuela and attorney Don Calabria met with Wood at a local hotel. Neither side would discuss specifics of the meeting, but Valenzuela is expected to be subjected to drug testing if he is granted a license.

"We're dealing with a lot of issues, one of them is his compliance with the board," Wood said.

Nakatani changes agents

Corey Nakatani has switched jockey's agents, replacing Bob Meldahl with Tony Matos. The change takes effect at the upcoming Santa Anita meet, and ends a 10-year association that saw Nakatani rise to the top of the Southern California jockeys.

"I think it got to the point where we weren't doing as well as he wanted us to do," Mehdahl said.

Nakatani's announcement marks the second major Southern California rider to switch agents this month. Last week, Gary Stevens announced that Brian Beach was replacing Matos.

The shake-up leaves Matos with Nakatani and Victor Espinoza, Meldahl with Laffit Pincay Jr., and Beach with Stevens and Mike Smith.

Pincay will sit out three days

Pincay has lost an appeal of a controversial three-day suspension from Del Mar during the summer, and will not ride from Wednesday through Friday. His decision effectively ends the race for leading rider at the Hollywood Park meeting.

Pincay has won three of the four riding titles at major meetings in Southern California this year, but through Sunday was second in the standings to Alex Solis, 23-20.

The suspension came from Pincay's ride on Reveille Slew in the second race on July 30. Pincay was ruled to have drifted in and was disqualified and placed fourth, a decision that was widely criticized.

Five-win day for McCarron

Chris McCarron's five wins on Saturday vaulted him into a tie for fifth place in the standings with 13 winners. It was McCarron's first five-win day at Hollywood Park since 1986, and the ninth of his career at this track.

McCarron won aboard his first three mounts, beginning in the fourth race - Bella Bella Bella ($3.60), Waki American ($8.20), and Fun House ($8.20).

After Yes We Do finished second as the favorite in the seventh race, McCarron did not ride the eighth. He returned to sweep the late double on Nepenthe ($3.60) and Earl of Danby ($8.20).

Italian rider plans to return

Mirco DeMuro, the Italian champion jockey who rode briefly at Del Mar during the summer, has indicated to friends that he is preparing to return to Southern California in January.

According to Beach, DeMuro plans to ride in California for three months.

During Del Mar, DeMuro rode two winners from four mounts and also worked horses in the morning for trainer Richard Mandella.

* Danny Wessler, 46, a videotape operator in the television department at Southern California tracks, died Friday after a lengthy battle with leukemia.

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