INGLEWOOD, Calif. (June 24, 2011)—Excellent News welcomed a return to her preferred surface, easily winning the $65,780 allowance feature Friday night at Hollywood Park.
A troubled fifth on turf in her prior start May 27, the 4-year-old Rahy filly assumed command immediately, relaxed well under jockey Joel Rosario and was taken in hand late while earning her fourth career victory. The margin of victory was a very deceptive 1 ½ lengths.
Now 3-for-5 over Cushion Track for owner Kaleem Shah and leading trainer Bob Baffert, Excellent News, the 6-5 favorite, completed the seven furlongs in 1:23.55. The win was her fourth in 14 lifetime races and increased her earnings to $216,844.
Favored for the seventh time in her last 10 starts, Excellent News paid $4.40 and $2.60. There was no show wagering.
Fashion Trend, the longest shot in the field at 5-1, returned $3.80. She outfinished Dowhill Diva by 1 ¼ lengths. Lady Sweetness, the 19-10 second choice, completed the order of finish after the scratch of Ancient Holiday.
With 15 days remaining in the Spring/Summer meet, Baffert holds a 26-24 lead over Mike Mitchell in the trainer standings. Baffert has never led a Spring/Summer season. His last local title was at the 2001 Autumn meet.
The win aboard Excellent News was the first of three Friday evening for Rosario, enabling him move into a tie with Rafael Bejarano for the riding lead. Both have 43 victories.
Racing resumes Saturday. Post time is 1 p.m.
The feature event on the nine race card is the $150,000 Hollywood Oaks. A Grade II at 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track, the Oaks attracted five, topped by Kentucky Oaks heroine Plum Pretty and Zazu, who won the Grade I Las Virgenes in February at Santa Anita.
If the Baffert-trained Plum Pretty starts and wins, she would become the second filly to capture the Kentucky Oaks and Hollywood Oaks. Fran’s Valentine accomplished the feat in 1985.
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