06/21/2009 11:00PM

Tight spots loom for Hot n' Dusty


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The reality has set in for trainer Barry Abrams and the partnership that owns Hot n' Dusty.

The 4-year-old filly has won 3 of 16 starts and is ready for her stakes debut at Hollywood Park this weekend. The options are not that attractive.

Abrams and owners Madeline Auerbach and the Little Red Feather syndicate can choose between a start against reigning champion older female Zenyatta in Saturday's $300,000 Vanity Handicap or against the multiple stakes winner Black Mamba in Sunday's $150,000 Beverly Hills Handicap on turf.

"We can try to get second or third - that's our best chance," said Abrams, sounding like a realist. "I'll enter in both and see which race I can get a check."

The other owners and trainers with horses being pointed for the Vanity or the Beverly Hills are in the same predicament. It will be difficult to upset either favorite this weekend.

Abrams is leaning toward starting Hot n' Dusty in the Vanity, which, in addition to having a higher purse, is a Grade 1.

"My inclination is the Vanity," he said. "Let's see who enters."

Zenyatta is unbeaten in 10 starts, the most recent of which was the Grade 2 Milady Handicap here on May 23. The winner of the 2008 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, Zenyatta won the Milady in her typical style. She dropped out to the rear of the field for the first half-mile, and rolled past the field in early stretch to win comfortably. She paid $2.40, which seemed like a fair return on investment considering the style of the victory.

Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss and trained by John Shirreffs, Zenyatta will carry 129 pounds in the Vanity, three more than she did in the Milady. It will be the highest handicap assignment of her career.

The Shirreffs-trained Life Is Sweet, second to Zenyatta in the Milady, was assigned 122, but is being pointed for the $700,000 Hollywood Gold Cup against males on July 11.

Zenyatta may have four or five opponents. The other probable starters are Briecat and Modification, at 114 pounds; AllIcansayis Wow and Forest Melody, at 113 pounds; and Hot n' Dusty, at 111 pounds.

Hot n' Dusty has started in four allowance races at this meeting, winning once and never finishing worse than third. She was second on May 2, won on May 22, was second on May 31, and was third on June 7.

Black Mamba, the defending champion of the Grade 2 Beverly Hills but winless in two stakes this year, will carry 120 pounds in Sunday's race, which is run over 1 1/4 miles on turf. She was fourth in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on turf on May 30.

The first three finishers of the Gamely - Magical Fantasy, Visit and Diamond Diva - are not in the Beverly Hills and are being considered for stakes later this summer.

Black Mamba is expected to face Charming Legacy, Lemon Chiffon, Restless Soul, Toque de Queda and You Lift Me Up.

Santa Teresita getting a break

Santa Teresita, who won the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita in February, has been turned out in Louisiana after finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs earlier this month.

Trainer Eric Guillot said Santa Teresita will be rested for a month before starting a swimming program. He hopes she can return for a fall campaign, with the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita in November in mind.

"It will be touch and go," he said.

Zip Quik headed for graded stakes

Zip Quik, a two-length winner of a maiden race over 5 1/2 furlongs on Saturday, will make his next start in a graded stakes for 2-year-olds. Trainer Patrick Biancone has races from coast to coast on his mind for the City Zip colt this summer.

Zip Quik could start in the Grade 3, $100,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship on July 12, the Grade 2, $150,000 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga on July 30 or the Grade 2, $150,000 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 9.

Saturday, Zip Quik was timed in 1:04.02. Ridden by Joe Talamo, he stalked the pace, moved into contention with a three-wide move, and pulled clear late. "He's very laid back," Biancone said. "He got a lot more experience from that."

Chocolate Candy to wait for Del Mar

Chocolate Candy, the three-time stakes winner who finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby last month and ninth in the Belmont Stakes June 6, is nearing a return to training after a two-week break, but will not start again until the Del Mar meeting.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said Chocolate Candy could be tried on turf during Del Mar, perhaps in the $150,000 La Jolla Handicap for 3-year-olds on turf on Aug. 15. Owned by Jenny Craig, Chocolate Candy has yet to start on turf in 11 starts.

Chocolate Candy's most prestigious win came in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields earlier this year.

* Apprentice jockey Christian Santiago Reyes, who has won with 14 of 118 mounts this year, begins riding at Hollywood Park on Thursday. Reyes, a 19-year-old native of Puerto Rico who claims a seven-pound allowance, has four mounts on the eight-race program.