Updated on 09/18/2011 2:38AM

Two tarnished stars out to regain luster


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Declan's Moon and Siren Lure will arrive at the starting gate for Saturday's $100,000 Vernon Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park in need of a victory.

At times over the last two years, Declan's Moon and Siren Lure have been at or near the top of the racing world, but each is coming off a disappointing race that has dented his reputation.

Their respective trainers - Ron Ellis and Art Sherman - insist they have not lost faith and are hoping to use the Grade 3 Underwood Stakes over six furlongs as a prep race for a successful 2007 campaign.

Siren Lure, who may go off favored, is seeking his sixth stakes win of the year.

Siren Lure had an outside shot at the 2006 Eclipse Award for top sprinter until he finished eighth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4. The loss ended a three-race winning streak in graded stakes that included the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap here in July. The streak made Siren Lure one of the most widely respected sprinters from California.

But in the BC Sprint, Siren Lure took his customary position at the back of the field and never launched a rally. He finished 9 1/4 lengths behind the winner, Thor's Echo.

"He didn't really train that good on that track," Sherman said of Churchill Downs. "He ran like a horse that was out there with no

pizzazz. He closed ground, but it wasn't his trip. We never really got our running shoes in the Breeders' Cup."

Sherman said that Siren Lure is better when he runs farther than the six furlongs of the Underwood.

"He can run three-quarters but it's not his best race," he said. "I figure, he's coming into this race good. There is not much for him early at Santa Anita. I need to get this under his belt because I want to stretch him out.

"He's always trained good over this. I'm hoping he runs big."

Siren Lure should have ample pace to chase. Premium Saltine, who has not started since finishing sixth in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar in July, and Sailors Sunset, the winner of the Saguaro Stakes at Turf Paradise in November, are quick enough to set the pace.

Premium Saltine, a winner of 10 of 26 starts and $315,890, is seeking his first stakes win since the Prairie Meadows Sprint in Iowa in August 2005. Trained by Ted H. West since the spring, Premium Saltine's only win on this circuit came in an optional claimer here over 6 1/2 furlongs in June.

Turnbolt, who finished second in an allowance race at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting in October, will not be far from the front. Trained by Richard Mandella, Turnbolt was second in the 2005 Underwood. Zanzibar, a Group 1 winner in Argentina in 2004, will run from the off the pace.

Ellis envisions Declan's Moon having a stalking role. The champion

2-year-old male of 2004, Declan's Moon is making his first start since finishing last of seven in the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 20. Following that race, Declan's Moon was found to be suffering from a lung infection.

Since Declan's Moon returned to serious training, Ellis has spoken highly of him.

"It's time to see it on the track," Ellis said. "He's perfect as far as I can tell. He's got natural speed. I think he can win the way he's working and acting. I haven't got too down on him. He had an excuse last time."

Ellis tentatively plans to start Declan's Moon in the $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on Jan. 6. But he still feels the 4-year-old Declan's Moon can be effective in a sprint like the Underwood.

"I've always thought of him as a route horse," Ellis said. "I think he can sprint off talent."