Menacing Dennis on Comeback Trail

JMJ Racing's stakes winner Menacing Dennis, whose second-place finish in last year's $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes earned him a spot in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), is gearing up for his 2003 debut at Hollywood Park under the care of new trainer Doug O'Neill.

The gelded son of Star de Naskra, who was 10th behind War Emblem in the Preakness, worked a bullet six furlongs in 1:11 1/5 handily on Monday. He hasn't started since finishing third in the Bull Dog Stakes at Fresno in October.

"He had surgery to remove some chips from his knee," O'Neill said. "I've had him a few weeks now and he's doing very, very well. He's very close to a race."

After his unplaced finish in the Preakness and two other graded stakes on the East Coast last year, Menacing Dennis returned to California and won the Earlene McCabe Derby at Sacramento before his third in the Bull Dog and subsequent surgery. From 10 starts, Menacing Dennis has won three times with a second and a third for earnings of $166,078.

"He's a very good horse and I think he's going to have a good year," said O'Neill, who is currently Hollywood Park's leading trainer with 19 wins heading into Monday's holiday program.