11/08/2005 12:00AM

'Threesixty' logical option to the favorite


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - If the good allowance sprinter Trail Mix is such a dominant presence Thursday in the seventh-race feature at Hollywood Park, why would anyone bother to bet the race?

The twofold answer is Trail Mix's odds will be depressingly low in the first-condition allowance, and lightly raced Threesixtysecurity offers an appealing alternative. enter the seven-furlong race as the top contenders in the richest race on the Thursday card.

The base purse for the one-other-than allowance received a $5,000 boost, from $37,000 to $42,000, after Hollywood Park and the Thoroughbred Owners of California negotiated a purse increase in the wake of the cancellation of turf racing at the autumn meet.

Trail Mix will benefit from a return to his favorite conditions - seven furlongs on the Hollywood dirt - after four good but non-winning tries at shorter distances on turf. A California-bred gelding with 2 wins from 12 starts, Trail Mix's best efforts come when he controls the pace. He is expected to do just that Thursday.

Trained by Mike Harrington, Trail Mix will be tough to catch if he reproduces either of his last two seven-furlong traces at Hollywood. He ripped California-bred maidens by seven lengths in May 2004, and then returned from an 11-month layoff in April to win a California-bred allowance by two lengths while setting fast fractions start to finish.

Juan Ochoa, a seven-pound apprentice, rides Trail Mix, whose weapon is his speed. If he clears the field from the outside, he could be difficult to catch. Trail Mix is sure to start favored, but recent maiden winner Threesixtysecurity may keep Trail Mix honest up front, and there is reason to expect improvement second start back from a layoff.

Threesixtysecurity had not been out in nearly nine months when he returned Oct. 14 in a $50,000 maiden claimer at Santa Anita. He pressed a strong pace, opened up into the lane, and won ridden out to the finish. Trainer Mike Mitchell claimed Threesixtysecurity from Warren Stute, and if Threesixtysecurity follows the pattern of many previous Mitchell claims, he should move forward second start back and first for Mitchell.

Furthermore, the Thursday allowance marks only the third career start for the 3-year-old Threesixtysecurity. That Mitchell "protects" the colt by bringing him back in an allowance race, instead of a claimer, is further reason to expect improvement. Corey Nakatani rides.