07/03/2007 12:00AM

Tough spot for a comeback


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - In his first start since last November, the multiple stakes winner Cause to Believe must beat a 2004 champion, two tough high-priced claimers, and a stakes-caliber sprinter who will set the pace in an optional claimer at Hollywood Park on Thursday.

And, the race is run at a distance that may be shorter than Cause to Believe's ideal trip. A 4-year-old trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Cause to Believe won the El Camino Real and California derbies last year before finishing 13th in the Kentucky Derby.

Thursday's race, run at six furlongs, will be Cause to Believe's first start since he finished ninth in the John Henry Handicap at a mile on turf at Bay Meadows last November. In his last start at six furlongs, Cause to Believe finished second in the San Miguel Stakes at Santa Anita in January 2006.

"He has run short very well," Hollendorfer said. "I don't know if he will do that as an older horse, but we're hoping that he will. It's a decent spot for a comeback. He's fit."

Cause to Believe will be in pursuit of Bushwacker, who has not started since finishing eighth in the Grade 3 El Conejo Handicap at Santa Anita in January, and Wind Water, an $80,000 claimer who has won 11 of 34 starts in his career.

Yes He's a Pistol, entered for an $80,000 claiming price, will be stalking the pace, while Declan's Moon, the 2004 champion 2-year-old male, will have a change of tactics from his previous form.

Trained by Ron Ellis, Declan's Moon has raced near the front in most of his 12 starts. This time, Ellis wants to try Declan's Moon from off the pace in reaction to the discovery that Declan's Moon has been suffering from a breathing problem.

The problem was detected after Declan's Moon finished third in an optional claimer at 7 1/2 furlongs on May 17. He led to the eighth pole before losing by two lengths.

Ellis said that in the high-stress situation of a race, Declan's Moon has only 80 percent breathing capacity in one lung.

"We scoped him as soon as he walked off" from his last race, said Ellis, "and it was the first time we've seen it. It only happens in the high stress of a race.

"We're hoping he can lope along and only exert himself in the last three-eighths. We're looking to make him a late-running sprinter. Otherwise, he's doing good, but you don't see the stress of a race in the mornings."