Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer joked in the Hollywood Park stable area Sunday morning that he does not need to be reminded about birthdays any more since he is busy filling out Medicare forms for his 65th next Saturday.
Hollendorfer said that no gift would be more greatly appreciated than a victory in the $250,000 Grade I Vanity Handicap that day by champion Blind Luck.
Hollendorfer, who will be inducted into Racing’s Hall of Fame in August, has won three Grade I stakes trophies at Hollywood Park—the Gamely, Hollywood Futurity and Hollywood Starlet—and indicated his mantel has room for a fourth.
“She’s been doing great since she came back from Kentucky,” said Hollendorfer of the 4-year-old filly who captured the La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs May 6. “She will work here tomorrow or the next day.
“I think a mile and an eighth is a good distance for her,” said Hollendorfer of the Vanity for fillies and mares on Cushion Track. Garrett Gomez has the return call.
Blind Luck seeks to become the third female to complete the Starlet-Vanity double, joining Hollywood Story and Splendid Blended. The Kentucky-bred chestnut has won 10 of 19 starts and earned $2,679,520.
She seeks the sixth Grade I victory of her career.
The Vanity, the first in four years to be won by a distaffer other than the retired Zenyatta, is also expected to attract Switch (Joel Rosario), St Trinians (Rafael Bejarano), Miss Match (Joe Talamo), American Story and She’s Cheeky.
Trainer John Sadler is hopeful that Switch, who upset Blind Luck in the Hollywood Oaks last June, can repeat that performance.
“It’s a good tough race,” said Sadler. “Switch, Blind Luck and St Trinians are really top horses. It’s not a real big field, but a classy field. (Trainer Bob) Baffert should be in front (with American Story). We’ll probably be sitting in second or third.”
Switch, who worked seven furlongs in 1:24.80 Saturday to the satisfaction of Sadler, has won five of 14 starts and earned $942,600.
Switch and St Trinians both gave Horse of the Year Zenyatta two of her toughest races.
Switch was overtaken in the final strides of the Lady’s Secret Stakes here last October to finish one-half length behind Zenyatta. St Trinians, trained by Mike Mitchell, was similarly beaten by one-half length in the Vanity last year.
Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale seeks a record-equaling fifth Vanity victory with Miss Match. The upset winner of the Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes at Santa Anita worked four furlongs on the main track in 49.20 Sunday.
OWNER TO GIVE FANS FREE SWITCH T-SHIRTS
Lee Searing, owner of Switch, will donate free T-shirts to fans in honor of his star filly in the Vanity Handicap Saturday at Hollywood Park.
“I just thought it would be fun,” said Searing of the 4,000 T-shirts that will be distributed on a first-come first-served basis in conjunction with Hollywood Park.
“The T-shirts will have a ‘Go Switch’ logo on the chest,” said Searing. “I have owned horses a long time, and Switch is a special horse.
“Our silks are mostly purple, a lot like the Lakers uniforms,” continued Searing. “My family thought it would look great if we had a lot of color and a lot of people rooting for our horse.”
Searing hoped the T-shirts would contribute to the sporting atmosphere at the track. “It’s a big day, a fun day, a fun race,” he said. “Come to Hollywood Park, get your free T-shirt and root for Switch.”
ACCLAMATION MAY RETURN IN GOLD CUP
Bud Johnston, owner and breeder of Acclamation, said that the repeat winner of the Grade I Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap on turf Saturday, could make his next start in the $500,000 Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap at 1 ¼ miles on Cushion Track July 9.
“In a couple of weeks, I would like to bring him over and work him on the main track and take a shot at the Gold Cup,” said Johnston of the 5-year-old horse, who is based at Santa Anita with trainer Don Warren.
“The Gold Cup is one of the most prestigious races in California, and we have never won it,” said Johnston in reference to Old English Rancho, founded by his late father in 1948. “I would love to win the Gold Cup.”
Acclamation, a California-bred by Unusual Heat, has shown an affinity for the Hollywood Park turf course, having won five times in eight starts on it. He has won only one other race in 17 other outings, that on the Del Mar turf.
In six previous outings on synthetics, he is winless with one second and two thirds.
Acclamation joined elite company with his Whittingham repeat as the only horse to win the race more than once along with three-time winner John Henry. He would again join elite company with a Gold Cup victory. Only Exceller in 1978 and Lava Man in 2006 have won both the Whittingham (called the Hollywood Invitational Turf Handicap before 1999) and the Gold Cup.
MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE TESTS TURF
Even after Midnight Interlude won the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 9, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert thought the 3-year-old colt might turn out to be a superior turf horse.
Midnight Interlude will make his first start on grass here Friday night after Baffert entered him in the $70,000-added Tsunami Slew Stakes for 3-year-olds at one mile.
After Midnight Interlude broke his maiden by 8 ½ lengths at one mile on a wet-fast Santa Anita main track on March 20, Baffert discussed options with owner Arnold Zetcher.
Baffert told Zetcher he could enter the colt in the La Puente Stakes on the Santa Anita turf April 10 or take a shot in the Santa Anita Derby the day before, as well as he had been training. Zetcher agreed to take a shot.
Midnight Interlude, who finished 16th in the Kentucky Derby and 13th in the Preakness Stakes in subsequent starts, has a strong turf pedigree top and bottom. He is by War Chant out of the Groom Dancer mare Midnight Kiss.
Midnight Interlude will face six rivals in the Tsunami Slew, including La Puente winner Surrey Star. Three other entrants worked on turf here Sunday: War Pilot, four furlongs in 49.60 for conditioner Mike Pender; Kentucky shipper Extensive, five furlongs in 1:03 for trainer Tom Proctor; and Generous Stakes runner-up Moment of Weakness, six furlongs in 1:17 for trainer Jamie Lloyd.
FINISH LINES—Although trainer Bob Baffert is branching into the 3-year-old turf division with Midnight Interlude, he seems more than well fortified on the main track with the likes of Coil, winner of the Grade III Affirmed Handicap Saturday, and Smash, a recent allowance winner here…A pair of Baffert 5-year-old mares nominated to the $70,000-added Desert Stormer Handicap June 19 turned in bullet works here Sunday for the six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. Freedom Star drilled four furlongs in 46.80, while Fund Raiser—third in the race last year—drilled six furlongs in 1:11.80. The Desert Stormer is also expected to attract Washington Bridge, winner of the Grade II Bayakoa Handicap, for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer …Hollendorfer was impressed with a victory by Killer Graces in the Cinderella Stakes Saturday and said that the 2-year-old filly could return in the $100,000 Landaluce Stakes July 16…Trainer Kathy Walsh said that Sarah’s Secret, who remained unbeaten in four starts with a victory in the Grade II $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap for 3-year-old fillies on grass Saturday, would be considered for the $500,000 Grade I American Oaks July 16 but that other options would also be weighed. “It’s a long year,” said Walsh… Garrett Gomez has taken a call for Mike Puype on Mizdirection, an 11 ½-length maiden winner May 8, for the $70,000-added Manhattan Beach Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs on turf Saturday. Four other probable starters worked. Three drilled four furlongs on turf: Pedaltothemedal in a bullet 48.40; Rosehill Dew and Coolofthevening, both in 51.60. English Royal worked five furlongs on the main track in 1:00.20… Tyler Baze will be in Kentucky Saturday to ride Mervyn LeRoy Handicap winner Crown of Thorns for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella in the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs.
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