Neil Drysdale, who worked as an assistant for Charlie Whittingham and followed the late training legend into the Racing Hall of Fame, seeks a record-equaling seventh victory in the stake named after his mentor.
Two of three Drysdale nominees for the $250,000 Grade I Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap at 1 ¼ miles on turf Saturday at Hollywood Park worked on the grass here Sunday.
Canadian import Marlang, with exercise rider Umberto Gomez, and Riviera Cocktail, exercise rider Jenelle Tomecek up, worked seven furlongs in tandem and could join Scintillo in the Whittingham. Scintillo, fourth in the Jim Murray Handicap in his United States debut here May 15, will be ridden by Martin Pedroza.
The race was won seven times by Whittingham when it was called the Hollywood Invitational Turf Handicap before being renamed in his memory following his death in 1999. Late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel also won the race seven times, including last year with Midships.
Drysdale won with Both Ends Burning in 1985, Political Ambition in 1988, Storm Trooper in 1998, White Heart in 2000, Storming Home in 2003 and Artiste Royal in 2008.
Three other Whittingham candidates—Battle of Hastings, Rendezvous and Red Sun—also worked on turf.
Battle of Hastings, a multiple stakes winner who leads nominees in earnings with $1,171,141, worked a bullet five furlongs in 59.60. Tyler Baze has the call.
Rendezvous, third-place finisher in the Jim Murray, worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 for the Jerry Hollendorfer stable. Joe Talamo will ride.
Red Sun worked four furlongs in 47 under Victor Espinoza, who won the race last year on Midships. Trainer Carla Gaines, pleased with the work, will send the 4-year-old gelding beyond one mile for the first time in his career. He won four straight starts before a third-place finish in the San Francisco Mile at Golden Gate April 24.
Other probable starters include Jim Murray winner Acclamation (Christian Santiago Reyes), San Marcos Stakes winner Loup Breton (Rafael Bejarano), Porfido (David Flores) and Unusual Suspect (Alonso Quinonez).
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was, understandably, in a good mood Sunday morning.
Hollendorfer savored Tuscan Evening’s first Grade I victory in the $250,000 Gamely Stakes Saturday while looking forward to sending out Blind Luck as the prohibitive favorite in the $150,000 Grade II Hollywood Oaks next Sunday.
“We’ll look at one more race before the Beverly D (August 21 at Arlington Park) for Tuscan Evening,” said Hollendorfer, indicating that the Beverly Hills Handicap or Royal Heroine Mile here or a prep race at Arlington head the list of options.
“Blind Luck will blow out a half mile Tuesday,” said Hollendorfer of the Kentucky Oaks winner. “She’s never been better.”
Hollendorfer explained that the Oaks at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track fit the filly’s schedule well. “I didn’t want to fly her again right now, and this race is coming up in a timely manner,” he said.
Blind Luck seeks to join Sharp Cat as the only filly to win both the Hollywood Starlet and Hollywood Oaks. She completed the unprecedented sweep in 1997.
Three other Starlet winners have come up short in the Oaks: Sardula, second in 1994; Excellent Meeting, second in 1999; and Hollywood Story, third in 2004.
Blind Luck, who has won seven of 10 starts and earned $1,398,712, will again be ridden by Rafael Bejarano.
Other probable starters include the John Sadler-trained duo of Crisp and Switch, Melair Stakes Camille C, Vision In Gold (Tyler Baze) and Andares World (Victor Espinoza). Trainer Steve Specht said that Antares World, winner of the California Oaks and Golden Poppy Stakes, will be shipped south from Golden Gate.
Crisp, the last horse to have beaten Blind Luck—prevailing in a three-horse photo finish in the Santa Anita Oaks in March—worked seven furlongs on Cushion Track in 1:26. But Sadler is not anxious for a rubber match after finishing seventh behind her in the Kentucky Oaks.
“No!” said trainer Sadler candidly when asked if he looked forward to a rematch. “She’s just tough!”
Jockey David Flores has taken a call to ride M One Rifle for the first time in the $100,000 Grade III Los Angeles Handicap at six furlongs Saturday, agent Craig O’Bryan confirmed Sunday.
Flores replaces Mike Smith, who had ridden the 4-year-old gelding in all his previous nine starts for trainer Bruce Headley. Smith will be in New York that day riding Drosselmeyer in the Belmont Stakes.
Headley and Flores teamed to win the race in 2008. Headley, who also won with Son of a Pistol in 1999 and Kona Gold in 2002, seeks to equal the record of four Los Angeles victories shared by Buster Millerick and John Sadler.
M One Rifle, winner of the Grade I Malibu Stakes in December, finished third in a strong optional claiming race at six furlongs here May 6 after hopping at the start.
Cost of Freedom, who led all the way to win that race by 4 ½ lengths in 1:08.36, and runner-up Stoneside are also expected back. Cost of Freedom, winner of the Grade I Ancient Title Stakes in 2008, will again be ridden by Tyler Baze in quest of a record fifth Los Angeles victory for Sadler.
Stoneside, winner of the 2008 San Simeon Handicap, will be ridden by Martin Pedroza for Julio Canani.
Other probable starters include Bet On Victor (Rafael Bejarano), Hiya Silver (Joe Talamo), Jiggly (Victor Espinoza), My Summer Slew (Alonso Quinonez) and E Z’s Gentleman.
Bet On Victor worked a bullet five furlongs in 58.40 for trainer Vladimir Cerin, while Golden Gate shipper Jiggly drilled the same distance in 59.80 for conditioner Bill Morey, Jr.
FINISH LINES—Trainer John Shirreffs said that unbeaten superstar Zenyatta would probably work Tuesday in her next-to-last drill for the $250,000 Grade I Vanity Handicap, a race she hopes to win an unprecedented third time on June 13. Shirreffs turns 65 on Wednesday…*Anne Sinchak*, assistant to trainer Jonathan Sheppard, said that Gamely runner-up Forever Together came back in top shape and will be flown back to Newark and vanned to Sheppard’s farm in West Grove, Pa., on Wednesday…Trainer John Sadler said that Dave In Dixie would be flown to New York on Tuesday for the Belmont Stakes Saturday after working one mile here Thursday. “I know he wants to run that far, and the Belmont is coming up an interesting race,” said Sadler of the decision for that spot…Sadler also said he is on the fence over leaving Noble Court in the $250,000 Shoemaker Mile Monday or scratching him to join Cost of Freedom in the $100,000 Los Angeles Handicap Saturday…Trainer Bobby Troeger said that Potrero Grande Handicap runner-up Gato Go Win will run in the True North Handicap on the Belmont undercard Saturday and be ridden by Mike Smith…Trainer Ron Ellis said that Canonize will be forced to miss the Los Angeles Handicap because of a sore back…Trainer Humberto Ascanio, who plans to start Porfido in the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap Saturday, said that defending champion Midships is in his barn but has been kept out of training by a nagging injury. Ascanio also reported that Citation Handicap winner Fluke is scheduled to return to training in two weeks after missing some time because of soreness…Agent Vince DeGregory said that 19-year-old apprentice jockey Alex Gonzalez would join the colony here June 16 from Northern California. DeGregory said that Gonzalez, a third generation jockey from Hollywood, Fla., was fifth in the standings…Owner Arnold Zetcher said that Zardana would probably make her next start in the Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont on June 12…Congratulations to Azeri, Best Pal and Point Given, all elected to the Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., last week. All were major stakes winners at Hollywood Park during illustrious careers.
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