07/01/2008 12:00AM

Winless streak doesn't worry McLaughlin

Lone Star Park
Lady of Venice comes into Saturday's CashCall Mile off a pair of troubled seconds in 2008.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The losses have been mounting for Lady of Venice since she won the $750,000 CashCall Mile at Hollywood Park last July, but trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is not worried.

Considering the way Lady of Venice has performed in two starts this year, McLaughlin sent the 5-year-old mare to California earlier this week convinced that she can defend her title.

"Her last two races have been her best for us," McLaughlin said.

Winless in five starts since the 2007 CashCall Mile, Lady of Venice was beaten a neck after a wide trip in the Grade 2 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland on April 12, her 2008 debut. She finished a troubled second to Ventura in the Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes at Belmont Park on June 7, unable to overcome traffic problems on the turn. "That's turf racing," McLaughlin said.

Losses? Yes, but neither embarrassed Lady of Venice, who has won 7 of 15 starts and $1,218,771.

Lady of Venice will be making her third trip to Hollywood Park in the last year. In the 2007 CashCall Mile, she rallied from eighth in a field of nine to post an impressive win over Precious Kitten. In the one-mile Matriarch Stakes last November, a Grade 1 on turf, she finished third to Precious Kitten.

The CashCall Mile is one of five graded races on Saturday's program at Hollywood. The others are the $750,000 American Oaks, $300,000 Vanity Handicap, $300,000 Triple Bend Handicap, and $100,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship.

Owned by Martin Schwartz, Lady of Venice made her first start for McLaughlin in the Matriarch. She was previously trained by Patrick Biancone, who is currently suspended for a medication violation.

Lady of Venice will be ridden by Alan Garcia, a replacement for Edgar Prado.

"We're not pointing a finger at Edgar, but Alan rides a lot of our horses," McLaughlin said. "I think she'll run great."

Lady of Venice is part of an expected field of seven. Ventura may go favored. The other probable starters are Diamond Diva, La Tee, Passified, Super Freaky, and Wake Up Maggie.

The American Oaks has 12 probable starters. One of the three locally based fillies, Bel Air Sizzle, has turned out to be a surprise for

trainer Barry Abrams and the partnership that owns the four-time winner.

Bel Air Sizzle needed five races to beat maidens. By the time she won, Abrams had lost enthusiasm about her long-term prospects. But the style of the maiden win and Bel Air Sizzle's subsequent consistency has restored Abrams's optimism.

Bel Air Sizzle has developed into a graded-stakes caliber filly in the last few months. The American Oaks will be her Grade 1 debut. Abrams is convinced that the race distance of 1o1/4 miles on turf is an ideal fit.

"She's shown determination and wants to run all the time," Abrams said.

The Oaks has attracted four fillies from Europe, including expected favorite Carribean Sunset; five fillies from across the United States, a group led by stakes winners Pure Clan and Raw Silk; and the California-based Magical Fantasy and Missit. Carribean Sunset was third in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot in England on June 20.

Bel Air Sizzle was a troubled second in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf on June 7. She broke slowly and closed from last in a field of six to finish three-quarters of a length behind Misty Ocean, who is passing the race in favor of a start at Del Mar.

"The horses she's faced in California, she's probably one of the best," Abrams said, referring to Misty Ocean. "Out of state and out of the country, those are horses I don't know anything about. I don't think any bums are coming here."

Bel Air Sizzle is seeking her first graded stakes win. She made news in April, winning an allowance race on April 24 and returning three days later to finish second in the Melair Stakes for statebreds. Bel Air Sizzle was promoted to first when Gambler's Justice was ruled to have caused interference in the stretch.

"I thought she'd be a nice allowance horse that could make money, but I never thought she could be a stakes horse," Abrams said. "The day she broke her maiden she pushed two horses out of the way and my mind changed. Ordinary horses can't do what she did. It was impressive."

The Vanity Handicap over 1 1/8 miles will feature the biggest standout among the stakes. Zenyatta, unbeaten in five starts, makes her first start at 1 1/8 miles in the main-track race for fillies and mares. She carries top weight of 124 pounds. Tough Tiz's Sis, the winner of the Grade 3 Hawthorne Handicap on May 4, is Zenyatta's biggest threat.

Street Boss, a winner of his last three starts, makes his Grade 1 debut in the $300,000 Triple Bend Handicap over seven furlongs. Street Boss will carry 119, the same assignment given to Elite Squadron, who won the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap on May 3 and was third in the Grade 3 Aristides Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 31.