06/27/2004 11:00PM

'Val' a new horse since moving west

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Since arriving in California last fall, Magnificent Val has been first or second in six starts, including in two raids on minor stakes at Turf Paradise.

Wednesday at Hollywood Park, bettors will expect her to extend that streak when she goes off as the favorite in an optional claimer over 1 1/16 miles on turf. The purse for the race is $58,000.

Owned by Richard Englander and trained by Jeff Mullins, Magnificent Val can be claimed Wednesday for $80,000. The race marks the first time she has been entered for a claiming price since she won an optional claimer for $100,000 on the hillside turf course March 5 at Santa Anita.

"I think the race down the hill impressed me more than anything," Mullins said. "She switched distances, it was her first time on the course, and she wore them down."

Since then, Magnificent Val has finished second in the Sun City Handicap and first in the Desert Sky Handicap at Turf Paradise.

, 5, was claimed for $50,000 at Belmont Park last September by Englander. She finished eighth in races at Belmont Park and The Meadowlands before joining Mullins.

In her six starts for Mullins, Magnificent Val has shown the ability to lead or stalk the pace. That versatility will be important for her jockey, Alex Solis, who could find company on the front end from Cat Alert and Aspen Hill.

Cat Alert was second in her first Southern California start May 27, losing by three-quarters of a length to Notting Hill. Sunday, Notting Hill finished fifth in the Grade 2 Beverly Hills Handicap.

faced Magnificent Val at Turf Paradise, beating her by a nose in the Sun City but losing by three-quarters of a length in the Desert Sky. Aspen Hill has never started at Hollywood Park.

Shalini, Star Vega, and Voz de Colegiala also start.

Shalini will try to end a three-race losing streak dating back to last July. She finished sixth against males in the Quicken Tree Stakes on June 13, her first start of 2004.

Voz de Colegiala is making her first start since finishing seventh in the Tuzla Handicap in January at Santa Anita.

Star Vega faded to sixth in an allowance race May 27 after fighting for the lead. She is winless in nine starts since the Providencia Stakes at Santa Anita in April 2003.