Rafael Bejarano and Jerry Hollendorfer can only hope the rest of the Spring/Summer meet comes close to the first week.
Bejarano, who entered Thursday seven shy of 3,000 career wins, had 26 mounts the first four days of the meet. He finished with 11 victories, five seconds and three thirds.
The hot streak left the Peruvian native eight winners clear of Tyler Baze and Edwin Maldonado and nine in front of Joe Talamo, Garrett Gomez, Kevin Krigger and Martin Garcia.
Bejarano will be at Churchill Downs this week to ride Midnight Lucky for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert in the Kentucky Oaks Friday and Overanalyze for Todd Pletcher Saturday in the Kentucky Derby.
Hollendorfer struck at an even higher percentage than Bejarano. The Hall of Fame trainer won with five of nine starters, including four stakes. The pair combined to take the Wilshire Stakes Sunday with Halo Dolly and the day before teamed to win the Melair (Doinhardtimeagain) and Tiznow (Kate’s Event).
John Sadler, Bob Baffert and Mike Mitchell round out the top four, each with a pair of victories.
Also in Kentucky this week are Kevin Krigger, who rides Goldencents for Doug O’Neill in the Derby; Mike Smith, who pilots Princess of Sylmar in the Oaks and Palace Malice in the Derby, both for Todd Pletcher; Garrett Gomez, aboard Beholder (Richard Mandella) in the Oaks and Vyjack (Rudy Rodriguez) in the Derby; and Julien Leparoux, who has assignments on Pure Fun in the Oaks and Java’s War in the Derby for trainer Ken McPeek.
CONSENSUS OF BETFAIR HOLLYWOOD PARK HORSEMEN: ORB
Though this year’s Kentucky Derby appears wide open, a sampling of the Betfair Hollywood Park backstretch has shown a definite preference for Orb.
Gary Sherlock (trainer)— “Orb. The trainer hasn’t had to drag him to the track. He’s been dragging the trainer to the track.”
Art Sherman (trainer)—“I like Orb because he can get the Derby distance.”
Vic Stauffer (BHP track announcer)—“I’m a Sheets guy and I like Normandy Invasion. He ran a great race as a 2-year-old and ran a race equal to that in the Wood Memorial. It was visually impressive and I expect him to run lights out in the Derby.”
Dudley Osborne (agent, Orlando Mojica)—“If I had to make a pick, I’d take Orb and an exacta with Revolutionary.”
Richie Silverstein (agent, Martin Pedroza)—“I like a “war horse” trifecta; Java’s War, Revolutionary and Normandy Invasion. And if you’re feeling lucky, Battle Lines for the superfecta. But I do like Java’s War to win.”
Larry Benavidez (assistant trainer, John Sadler)—“I’m rooting for Kevin (Krigger on Goldencents), but my pick is Orb. I liked him even more before he kicked the paddock Wednesday.”
Dan Ward (assistant trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer)—“I’ll be rooting for Shug (McGaughey, trainer of Orb). When we send horses back there they go to him. I also like (Joel) Rosario riding him.”
Peter Miller (trainer)—“I want to see Shug and Rosario win it. (Orb).
Julio Canani (trainer)—“Whoever Calvin Borel is riding (Revolutionary). He’ll find the rail.”
Vince DeGregory (agent, Brice Blanc and Jorge Carreno)—“Orb is getting better and better. Traffic in the race is the main concern.”
Scott McClellan (agent, Joe Talamo)—“It all comes down to who likes the track. I like Chad Brown’s horse (Normandy Invasion) and Orb.”
Martin Panza (Racing Secretary)—“Orb to win and a longshot, Oxbow, for the exacta.”
Marty Jones (trainer)—“I have to go with the California horse (Goldencents).”
Tom Proctor (trainer)—“It’s Orb all the way. He has a classic pedigree, like me.”
MERVYN LEROY HIGHLIGHTS 11 RACE BHP CARD SATURDAY
Betfair Hollywood Park will present an 11-race program Saturday in addition to offering simulcast wagering on the Kentucky Derby. Two stakes will be run; the $70,000 Cool Frenchy at 5 furlongs, which goes as the 5th race, and the Grade II $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at 1 1/16 miles, which is carded as the 10th. The Derby will be run between races 8 and 9. Approximate post time for the 139th Kentucky Derby is 3:25 p.m. PDT.
Gates will open at 7 a.m. and there will be an early first post of 11 a.m. Because of the special post time, there will no seminars – Escogiendo Ganadores or Hollywood Insider – Saturday.
The Kentucky Derby Day festivities will also include the Derby Dream Contest, where the fan that comes closest to picking the correct order of finish in the Kentucky Derby will win $1,000, and the start of the Triple Crown Challenge. This is a free contest where fans receive four selections in the Derby. If they have the winner among those picks, they will advance to the Preakness two weeks later.
DRYSDALE SCRATCHES LUCUYAN, SHOULD MAKE THE MEETING
The United States debut of Lucuyan, winner of the Group I 2,000 Guineas at Longchamp in 2012, has been put on hold because of a slight injury, according to trainer Neil Drysdale.
“It’s not serious,” stated Drysdale. “I like him very much and I expect that he’ll start this meet.”
A French bred son of Turtle Bowl, Lucuyan won three of eight in his native country while earning $405,275. The 4-year-old was entered in Thursday’s fifth race, an $80,000 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on turf.
CLOSING STRIDES— The popular $2,500 winner-take-all Show Me the Money contest begins Sunday. Players remain alive as long as their daily selection finishes first, second or third…….There was a 19-way shake Sunday for Bobby Handy, who finished second as the favorite in a $20,000 claimer. The 6-year-old moves from Steve Sherman to Steve Knapp ……..Trainer Ron Ellis, who scratched Teddy’s Promise from last Saturday’s B. Thoughtful Stakes, entered the Grade I stakes winner back in Sunday’s $70,000 Time to Leave Stakes……..Assistant trainer Dan Ward (Jerry Hollendorfer) said that Wilshire Handicap winner Halo Dolly returned in good order. A decision is pending on her next start……A new addition to the local jockey colony is 17-year-old Ricardo Gonzalez, who won nine races at Turf Paradise. The seven-pound apprentice weighs in at an unusually light 100 pounds.
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