Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer will carry California hopes in the Belmont Stakes when he saddles Chocolate Candy in the third leg of the Triple Crown in New York Saturday but the ubiquitous conditioner will also have a busy day at Hollywood Park.
Assistant Dan Ward, who oversees the Hollendorfer division here, will deputize for his boss and send out starters in three stakes, including Union Avenue in the featured $300,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap.
Hollendorfer also plans to run Paul’s Hope in the $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap and Tuscan Evening in the $70,000-added Redondo Beach Stakes.
Hollendorfer, who worked 17 horses here Sunday, plans to return to New York Wednesday to put the final touches on Chocolate Candy for the Belmont.
Chocolate Candy will be reunited in the Belmont with Garrett Gomez, under whom he rose to prominence here last November with his first stakes victory in the Real Quiet. The Jenny Craig home-bred colt went on to finish third in the CashCall Futurity, win two stakes at Golden Gate Fields, finish second in the Santa Anita Derby and place fifth in the Kentucky Derby.
The 141st running of the Belmont Stakes, which will be simulcast here, is scheduled for a 3:27 p.m. (PDT) post time. Track gates will open at 8 a.m. to enable the track to simulcast the entire 13-race Belmont card. The first import from Belmont will be at 8:35. First post for the Hollywood Park card is 12 noon.
The rejuvenated Union Avenue will try to continue his comeback in the Grade I Whittingham at 1 ½ miles on turf. Making his first start for Hollendorfer here April 22, the 6-year-old horse scored his first victory in three years by rallying to win an optional claiming race at 1 1/16 miles on turf under Rafael Bejarano.
Union Avenue had gone winless in eight starts since capturing the Grade II American Derby on the Arlington Park turf for Bill Mott in 2006. He had gone through two other trainers and three layoffs before his auspicious return in his first start since last June.
“He came to us last September and needed some work,” explained Ward. “We sent him out to a farm and he came back to us at the beginning of the year.
“His comeback race was very good and he’s been training very well,” continued Ward. “He won the American Derby at 1 3/16 miles so I don’t think distance will be a problem. For a 6-year-old, he’s very lightly raced.”
The Virginia-bred son of Gone West, owned by William de Burgh, has won four of 15 starts and earned $303,640. Bejarano has the call back.
Hollendorfer, Bejarano and de Burgh will also team with Tuscan Evening, who was scratched from the Gamely Stakes Saturday, to run in the Redondo Beach at one mile on turf for females. The 4-year-old Irish-bred filly finished second in the Irish 1000 Guineas last year.
Hollendorfer will also send out Paul’s Hope in the Grade III Ack Ack at 7 ½ furlongs on Cushion Track with Joseph Talamo. The 5-year-old gelding, owned by Hollendorfer and George Todaro, finished second in the six-furlong Los Angeles Handicap in his last start. He worked four furlongs in 49 seconds Sunday.
MADEO FIRES BULLET FOR WHITTINGHAM
Madeo, winner of the Inglewood Handicap in his last start here April 26, signaled his readiness for the $300,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap here Saturday by working six furlongs on Cushion Track in a bullet 1:11 Sunday.
Trainer John Shirreffs will try to follow the same path as he did two years ago with After Market, who won the Inglewood and the Whittingham. Mike Smith will ride the 4-year-old home-bred for Jerry and Ann Moss in the Grade I test at 1 ¼ miles on turf.
A field of at least six is probable: defending champion Artiste Royal (Joel Rosario), Madeo (Smith), San Juan Capistrano Handicap winner Midships (Victor Espinoza), Union Avenue (Rafael Bejarano), Liquidity (Corey Nakatani) and Globetrotter (no rider).
Liquidity, who has never raced on turf, worked six furlongs in 1:15.80 on Cushion Track for trainer Doug O’Neill. “Liquidity trains like a horse where distance will be no problem,” said O’Neill of the 5-year-old horse. “He’s a lot more mature now than he was as a 3-year-old.”
New York-based Court Vision, Cowboy Cal, Gio Ponti, Monba and Operation Red Dawn were also nominated but as of Sunday none was confirmed to ship.
SIERRA SUNSET TO RETURN IN ACK ACK
Sierra Sunset, sidelined for more than a year since winning the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in March, 2008, will return in the $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap Saturday, trainer Jeff Bonde confirmed from Golden Gate Fields Sunday.
“He injured an ankle and we gave him quite a bit of time off,” explained Bonde. “He had a little fracture, and we sent him to the farm. He came back about three months ago and he’s ready to go again.”
Bonde said the 4-year-old colt was shipped to Hollywood Park Saturday and will be ridden by Martin Garcia in the Ack Ack, a 7 ½-furlong Grade III race on Cushion Track.
Sierra Sunset recorded a series of impressive works at Pleasanton before working six furlongs in 1:12.60 seconds at Golden Gate Wednesday. Winner of the Bay Meadows and California Cup Juvenile Stakes last year, Sierra Sunset has captured four of 11 starts and earned $428,696.
A field of at least nine is probable: Davos (Victor Espinoza), Doppio (Alex Solis), Liberian Freighter (Rafael Bejarano), Luhuk’s Dancer (David Flores), Noble Court (Joel Rosario), Paul’s Hope (Joseph Talamo), Prussian (Mike Smith), Sierra Sunset (Garcia) and Star Nicholas (Michael Baze).
Star Nicholas, winner of the On Trust Handicap here in December, worked five furlongs in 1:00 for trainer Peter Eurton.
GOMEZ TO RIDE LADY LUMBERJACK IN HOLLYWOOD OAKS
National earnings leader Garrett Gomez has taken a call to ride Lady Lumberjack in the $150,000 Hollywood Oaks next Sunday upon his return to California for the remainder of the year, agent Ron Anderson reported Sunday.
Lady Lumberjack has recorded two firsts and three seconds in six starts and captured a 6 ½-furlong optional claimer here May 14 in her most recent start. The Forestry filly worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 Sunday for trainer Julio Canani.
Other probable starters in the Grade II test at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track include Melair Stakes winner Pretty Unusual (Alex Solis), Kays and Jays (Mike Smith) and the John Sadler-trained duo of Evita Argentina (Joel Rosario) and Third Dawn (Rafael Bejarano).
SOLIS, GALLAGHER TEAM AGAIN IN REDONDO BEACH
Jockey Alex Solis and trainer Paddy Gallagher, who united to win two photo finishes Saturday including the $314,000, Grade I Gamely Stakes with Magical Fantasy, will try their magic again next Saturday with Miss Singhsix in the $70,000-added Redondo Beach Stakes.
Miss Singhsix worked five furlongs on turf in 1:03.40 Sunday for the fillies and mares test at one mile on grass. Other probable starters include Charming Legacy (Joseph Talamo), Dawn After Dawn (Joel Rosario), Gorgeous Goose (Corey Nakatani) and Tuscan Evening (Rafael Bejarano).
Dawn After Dawn worked a bullet six furlongs in 1:15 on turf for trainer John Sadler. Wilshire Handicap winner Gorgeous Goose worked the same distance in 1:16 breezing for trainer Mike Puype.
FINISH LINES — Trainer Doug O‘Neill plans to saddle a potent duo of Classical Slew and Track N Attack in the $70,000-added Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes for 2-year-olds at 5 ½ furlongs Thursday…Oui Say Oui worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 for John Sadler for the $70,000-added Manhattan Beach Stakes for fillies and mares at six furlongs on turf Friday…Jockey Joseph Talamo will travel to Toronto next Sunday to ride Wynning Ride for Bob Baffert in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks.
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