12/04/2001 12:00AM

Truly a Judge an imposing presence

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - They had to beg and borrow in the Hollywood Park racing office on Tuesday morning to cobble together enough horses for both Thursday's feature race and the entire eight-race card.

Of the five horses entered in the second race, a starter allowance that carries a purse of $50,000, at least two had to be hustled to make the race go. But it was a struggle all morning. Only 58 horses are in the eight races, an average of 7 1/4 per race.

Much of the initial reticence from trainers to run in the second race was because of the presence of Truly a Judge, who comes off a powerful victory at the same 1 1/16 miles as Thursday's feature. He has won his last two starts and four of his last six. Kent Desormeaux rides back for trainer David Bernstein, who claimed Truly a Judge for $20,000 out of a winning race at Santa Anita' s Oak Tree meeting on Oct. 8.

Truly a Judge's main rival figures to be Hemet Thought, who has won two of his last three races and was a three-length winner against starter allowance company at Santa Anita on Nov. 5. He, however, has yet to race around two turns, and always has acted as though he is a late-running sprinter. Truly a Judge, by contrast, already is a proven winner around two turns.

Both Happy Hero and Proper Motion were well beaten when they faced Truly a Judge on Nov. 15, but they are back for another try. Cliff Sise, the trainer of Proper Motion, was one of the trainers who agreed to run when it looked as though another race for Proper Motion, scheduled for Friday, likely would not fill.

Trainer Sean McCarthy also was convinced to run Audix, whose best recent races have been on turf. He faced a stronger field last time out at Golden Gate Fields, and should benefit from a slight drop in class.

The third race, which starts the pick six, finds Dazzling Diamonds and Gamblingisavirtue renewing their rivalry in a 1 1/16-mile grass race for high-priced female claimers. Dazzling Diamonds just did hold on to prevail against a similar field on a Friday-night card three weeks ago. She should be the controlling speed in the six-horse field.

Gamblingisavirtue was a fast-finishing third in that race after getting fanned wide at the top of the stretch. Gamblingisvirtue benefits from a significant switch in post positions. She breaks from post 2 this time after being hung out wide in post 9 in a field of 10 in her last start.

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