Updated on 09/18/2011 2:41AM

Top two in Native Diver must avoid duel

Matt Wooley/Horsephotos
Ball Four wins the Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park in September.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The front-runners Ball Four and Flamethrowintexan will have a showdown of their own in Sunday's $100,000 Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park. But they cannot get too carried away.

If a speed duel develops, there are several stalkers and closers capable of meaningful late runs.

As of Friday, it was unclear how many rivals Ball Four and Flamethrowintexan would face in the Grade 3 Native Diver. The race drew eight entrants, but Boboman was cross-entered in Saturday's Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup, and trainer Paulo Lobo said he was unsure whether Molengao would start.

Both Ball Four and Flamethrow-intexan are having outstanding years.

Ball Four, 5, won the Grade 2 Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park in September and was second in the Grade 3 Fayette Stakes at Keeneland in late October. Both races were run at 1 1/8 miles on synthetic surfaces, as is the Native Diver.

Trained by Patrick Biancone, Ball Four led in both starts, and was beaten three-quarters of a length by Eccentric in the Fayette.

Flamethrowintexan has won 3 of his last 4 starts, including the Mt. Rainier Breeders' Cup Handicap and Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs during the summer.

Trained by Jim Penney, Flamethrowintexan, 5, finished a tiring fifth in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup in Chicago on Sept. 30, but rebounded to win the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap at about 1 1/8 miles on turf on Oct.o28.

"He's very quick, and yet he's learned to relax and to run his race," Penney said.

Penney said Flamethrowintexan is not one-dimensional.

"If someone is going to send, we don't have to be in first," Penney said. "He will rate."

If those two set a quick pace, Don Incauto, Saint Stephen, and Spellbinder could benefit.

Don Incauto was a two-time Groupo1 winner in Argentina last year, but is winless in three starts in this country. He was a fast-closing third in the Bay Meadows Handicap.

Saint Stephen has not started since winning the minor Henry Clark Stakes at Pimlico in April. Trained by Christophe Clement, Saint Stephen has run on turf in 20 of his 22 starts.

Spellbinder won the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on dirt at Santa Anita in February and the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap at Golden Gate Fields in September.

He was fifth in the Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap in October, a six-furlong sprint that was too short for his style.