10/20/2010 1:28PM

Tiz West, Meteore seek to regain old form

Benoit & Associates
Meteore, winless since taking the La Jolla Handicap in August 2009, tries to regain his good form in a one-mile turf race Friday at Oak Tree's Hollywood meet.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Tiz West and Meteore were stakes winners in their 3-year-old campaigns in 2008 and 2009. It’s racing against older horses that has been difficult.

Both are winless this year for trainer Richard Mandella, but are considered leading candidates in Friday’s seventh race at Hollywood Park, a one-mile optional $80,000 claimer on turf. A win on Friday could lead to a start in the $250,000 Citation Handicap here on Nov. 27.

Meteore, 4, is winless in seven starts since the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar in August 2009. Tiz West, 5, won two stakes in 2008 but is winless in his last 15 starts.

Meteore’s best result this year was a second in the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile in August. In the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile here on Oct. 9, he finished fourth, 3 1/2 lengths behind Liberian Freighter, never threatening the winner. Occasionally, Meteore has been overeager in his races and given jockeys trouble, but Mandella is reluctant to blame the last loss on that behavior.

“I’ll try him right back and see if I can surprise him,” Mandella said. “He doesn’t do anything terribly. He did behave the other day. He wasn’t pulling.”

Mandella considered starting Meteore in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6, had the colt run well in the Oak Tree Mile.

“That’s what I was testing,” he said.

Tiz West has been less consistent. In five starts this year, his best finish has been a third in an allowance race over a mile on turf here in May. He was fourth in the Governor’s Cup Handicap at Fairplex Park on Sept. 22, his only career start on a dirt track.

“I’d like to win one with him,” Mandella said. “He’s not come back as good as he was at 3. Maybe he’s the same and the others are better.”

The optional claimer drew a field of eight, including No Inflation, who won the Grade 3 Kent Stakes at Delaware Park in 2009; Aggie Engineer, who was stakes-placed at Del Mar this summer; and Allegre, the winner of two minor turf stakes at Turf Paradise in 2009.

No Inflation is winless in six starts this year. Friday’s race is his first start in California since a third in the 2009 Oak Tree Derby.