06/18/2002 11:00PM

Tracemark fits Dollase's label of overachiever


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - When Tracemark joined trainer Craig Dollase's stable at the start of the year, it did not seem likely that the gelding would be running in important 3-year-old stakes by the spring.

Dollase was just hoping Tracemark would win a race. Five months later, Tracemark has done so much more. He won the California Derby at Bay Meadows and finished second in the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby.

Sunday at Hollywood Park, Tracemark will attempt to win his first graded stakes in the $100,000 Affirmed Handicap against a field that includes Came Home, the winner of the Santa Anita Derby.

"He seems to be an overachiever," Dollase said of Tracemark.

By spring, Dollase and owner Ed McGrath considered the Triple Crown for Tracemark. Shortly after the California Derby, they abandoned plans for the Kentucky Derby when it was obvious that Tracemark did not have sufficient earnings to be guaranteed a berth.

Following a second in the Lone Star Derby after a slow start, Tracemark was being considered for the Bemont Stakes until the colt had a minor foot scare.

"We thought he had an abscess, but he's okay now," Dollase said. "We had a little setback. It only cost him two days of training."

Tracemark may be the second choice in the betting in the Grade 3 Affirmed, run over 1 1/16 miles. The favorite will be Came Home, Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron's final stakes mount. McCarron is retiring on Sunday.

Other probables are Calkins Road, Fonz's, and Kamsack.

Wednesday, Tracemark worked five furlongs in 1:00.40. The long-term goal is the $500,000 Swaps Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on July 14.

Dollase said that Tracemark needs a better start than he had in the Lone Star Derby to have any chance of beating Came Home.

"He had kind of a bad break," Dollase said. "He's had a freshening in between and we're satisfied with him."

Desormeaux's unusual daily double

In the Affirmed, Kent Desormeaux will ride Kamsack, who finished third in his 3-year-old debut in the Grade 2 Laz Barrera Stakes over seven furlongs on May 27. Last summer, Kamsack won a maiden race at Del Mar and finished second to Officer in the Del Mar Futurity.

The Affirmed Handicap comes at the end of a highly unusual day for Desormeaux. He said he is booked to ride 11 races in Japan on Sunday, including one worth $1.56 million, before taking a flight that returns to California late morning on Sunday.

Desormeaux also wanted to ride in Japan on Saturday, but was recently suspended for three days by stewards in northern California for a riding altercation at Bay Meadows. The suspension runs from Thursday through Saturday. Because of a reciprocal agreement, the suspension will be honored in Japan.

Affluent takes one more crack

After Azeri beat Affluent by 3 1/2 lengths in the Grade 1 Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on May 25, trainer Ron McAnally began considering other races around the country for Affluent, his 4-year-old filly.

McAnally had seen enough of Azeri, who already had beaten Affluent in the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park in April.

But when McAnally saw the weights for Saturday's $250,000 Vanity Handicap, he changed his mind and decided to stay home.

In the Vanity, run over 1 1/8 miles, Azeri will carry 125 pounds, an increase of three pounds from the Milady. Affluent remains the same at 119 pounds.

"I think in the longer race the weight will start to show," McAnally said.

The weight assignments are nearly all McAnally can pin his hopes on. While Affluent is in the midst of an excellent year - she won the El Encino Stakes in January and has finished second to Azeri in two Grade 1 races - Azeri is the nation's leading older filly or mare with three consecutive wins in Grade 1 stakes. Race tactics may also help Affluent. Azeri was unopposed on the lead in the Milady, but could be challenged early in the Vanity by Ask Me No Secrets or Starrer.

Such a strategy could be the difference for Affluent, or Azeri may brush off the challengers on the way to her fourth straight major win.

Starine will await Ramona

Starine, who finished second in the Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap on turf on May 27, will not start in the $250,000 Beverly Hills Handicap on June 29, but will be pointed for the Ramona Handicap at Del Mar on July 27, trainer Bobby Frankel said.

The Grade 1 Beverly Hills Handicap is led by Astra, the winner of the Gamely. Frankel will start Peu a Peu, the winner of the Yerba Buena Handicap at Bay Meadows.

Farda Amiga may target Alabama

Farda Amiga, the upset winner of the Kentucky Oaks on May 3, is nearing her first breeze since that race, trainer Paulo Lobo said.

In the weeks after the Kentucky Oaks, Farda Amiga was ill with a virus, which knocked her out of training until late May. She is currently galloping at Hollywood Park and may breeze within the next 10 days, Lobo said. Lobo said the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 17 and Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 24 are under consideration.