Hoping to re-establish his “horse for course” reputation on the Hollywood Park turf, Acclamation seeks to repeat his 2010 victory in the $150,000 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap Saturday. The Murray is a Grade II at 1 ½ miles.
“He just gets a hold of this turf course,” said trainer Don Warren Sunday from his Santa Anita headquarters of the 5-year-old horse who ended an 11-race losing streak with a 7 ½-length wire-to-wire victory in the Jim Murray last year and returned with another front-running score in the Grade I Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap.
Acclamation, a homebred owned by Bud and Judy Johnston’s Old English Rancho, has been winless in four starts since the Whittingham and hopes to get untracked again here, where he has recorded three victories and two thirds in six starts. He has won once in 17 outings at other tracks.
Acclamation returns from a distant 10th-place finish in the $1-million Charles Town Classic in West Virginia April 16. “There was mud and rain and trouble on the first turn,” said Warren of the race. “Nothing went right.”
Warren shipped the California-bred son of Unusual Heat to Hollywood Park Thursday for a seven-furlong turf work in 1:29. “He went slow in the first part, finished strong and galloped out strong,” said Warren. “They got him for seven-eighths, but he worked a mile.”
Joel Rosario, leading rider at the meet, will replace Christian Santiago Reyes, who had been aboard in his last six starts. “He’s doing as well as ever,” said Warren, hoping Acclamation again displays his penchant for the Hollywood Park grass.
Acclamation will try to join On The Acorn, who won in 2007 and 2008, as the only repeat winner of the Jim Murray, named for the legendary sports columnist of the Los Angeles Times. On The Acorn won with two different jockeys.
Other probable starters include California Cup Classic winner Soul Candy (Rafael Bejarano), Buenos Dias (Brice Blanc) and Restless Soul (Joe Talamo).
Restless Soul, a 7-year-old English-bred mare, seeks to become the first female to win the Jim Murray in its 21-year history. She finished third in the Santa Barbara Handicap on the Santa Anita turf in her last outing for trainer Neil Drysdale.
Possibles include All Saint, Falcon Rock, Haimish Hy and Power Series.
IKE LIKES “FLIGHT” IN BARRERA
Syndicated handicapper Bob Ike can be forgiven for a bias favoring Flightofalifetime in the $100,000 Grade III Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds here next Sunday.
Ike is also a managing partner with Brett Lindenbaum in Summit Racing, co-owner of the chestnut Florida-bred colt.
Ike hopes that Flightofalifetime provides Summit, which started 2 ½ years ago and has grown to 13 horses, with its first graded stakes score.
Flightofalifetime, trained by Bob Baffert, comes off a 2 ½-length maiden victory at six furlongs at Santa Anita April 9. He won at second asking for Summit, George Bolton and Mike Shustek’s Majestic Racing Stable.
“Mike Shustek originally bought him after Nick Hines picked him out at the Ocala 2-year-old sale,” said Ike of the $140,000 purchase. “They tried to start him at Del Mar but he had a setback for a few months. We bought in when he started training on the comeback trail in January. Then we brought George Bolton in later.
“He trained like a real good one, and we were confident first time out, but he ran into Maclean’s Music, who won with the highest debut Beyer in 20 years,” said Ike of a second-place finish at Santa Anita March 19.
“He was supposed to win second time out and did,” continued Ike. “He’s been training well since, and even though going from a maiden win to a stake is a big step, we think he has the quality to fit with these.”
Baffert, who trains seven of the 14 nominees for the Barrera, is also considering Hoorayforhollywood and Sinai to join Flightofalifetime for the race. Sinai, fourth in the Harry Henson Stakes April 21, worked six furlongs in a bullet 1:12 Sunday at Hollywood Park.
Runflatout, another Barrera probable from the John Sadler barn, also drilled six furlongs in 1:12 here Sunday. Garrett Gomez, who rode the ridgling to a maiden win first time out in January, returns to ride. Runflatout fizzled after a suicidal speed duel in the San Felipe Stakes March 12.
Bench Points, a two-time stakes winner who finished third in the San Felipe and seventh in the Santa Anita Derby, returns with Rafael Bejarano for trainer Tim Yakteen.
Possibles are headed by Harry Henson winner Ain’t No Other, San Pedro Stakes winner Indian Winter and Generous Stakes runner-up Moment of Weakness.
SOPHOMORE PROSPECTS EXCITE KRIKORIAN
Owner-breeder George Krikorian had three good reasons to look forward to this summer while touring the stable area Sunday.
Homebred Star Billing won the $100,000 Grade III Senorita Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on turf Saturday to remain unbeaten in two starts, two races after stablemate Guest Star finished a fast-closing second in a maiden race in her second outing, both for trainer John Shirreffs.
Krikorian is also the owner-breeder of Hoorayforhollywood, a colt who won his debut for trainer Bob Baffert and is nominated to the $100,000 Grade III Laz Barrera Stakes here next Sunday.
“Hoorayforhollywood is the first foal out of Hollywood Story,” said Krikorian of the royally-bred colt by Storm Cat. “He lost a little time with a foot bruise after his first win (in February at Santa Anita).” Multiple stakes winner Hollywood Story scored her first stakes win as a maiden in the Grade I Hollywood Starlet.
Star Billing and Guest Star also boast strong pedigrees associated with success at Hollywood Park and should continue to be heard from this meet.
Guest Star is by Storm Cat out of Krikorian’s multiple stakes-winner Starrer, who was a two-time winner of the Bayakoa Handicap.
Star Billing is by Dynaformer out of another Krikorian mare, Topliner. “Topliner is a half-sister to Starrer,” explained Krikorian.
HEADLEY CONTINUES ASSAULT ON SPEED
Trainer Bruce Headley set a Hollywood Park Cushion Track record of 55.98 seconds for five furlongs with M One Rifle in defeating previous record-holder Cost of Freedom by one-half length in the $91,010 Cool Frenchy Stakes Saturday. Headley said he is aiming M One Rifle for a return May 30 in the $100,000 Los Angeles Handicap, in which the Headley-trained Street Boss holds the six-furlong track and stakes record of 1:07.55, set in 2008.
FINISH LINES—Congratulations to Animal Kingdom, winner of the Kentucky Derby Saturday. The colt’s sire, Leroidesanimaux, spent most of his career here in the Bobby Frankel stable after being imported from Brazil and holds the course record for 1 1/16 miles on turf, 1:38.45, established on Kentucky Derby Day 2004 winning the Inglewood Handicap. Trainer Graham Motion has shipped here frequently from Maryland and won the Grade I Matriarch Stakes last fall with Gypsy’s Warning. Jockey John Velazquez remains among the leaders in Autumn Turf Festival wins with six…Trainer John Sadler said that beaten stakes favorites Sidney’s Candy and Cost of Freedom returned in good shape and should return in future stakes here.
“We had to give four and six pounds in those two races and hope for a correction in their next starts,” said Sadler. He indicated that Sidney’s Candy would switch to grass for the Shoemaker Mile and that Cost of Freedom would return in the Los Angeles Handicap for a rematch with M One Rifle…Backsiders remembered famed actor Jackie Cooper, who died this week at age 88, for a lengthy period of time he spent his retirement years as a pony rider in the Charlie Whittingham stable.
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