Hudson Landing, winless in his first seven starts in the East, is unbeaten in three starts since joining the Bill Morey stable at Golden Gate Fields.
Morey hopes the chestnut colt stretches his winning streak to four in the $100,000 Grade III Will Rogers Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on turf at Hollywood Park Sunday.
“We bought him in Florida as a maiden and got lucky,” said Morey from Golden Gate Thursday after shipping the colt south Tuesday. He galloped on the main track here under the supervision of Dean Greenman.
Hudson Landing, who had raced at Saratoga, Belmont, Aqueduct and Gulfstream Park for trainer Stanley Hough, broke his maiden at Golden Gate on April 2, won an optional claimer there on April 24 and captured the Alcatraz Stakes on turf in his last start on May 15.
“After the stakes race, we started looking south for opportunities,” explained Morey. “The turf and the timing were good for this one.”
Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze, who has ridden the colt in his three wins, has taken the Will Rogers call.
Hudson Landing drew post five in a field of nine. A Kentucky-bred colt by Maria’s Mon, Hudson Landing is owned by Roger and Cindy Newman, Gene Guelfo and Franklin Lindstrom.
Trainer Alexis Barba worked as an exercise rider for the late Eddie Gregson when he sent out Candi’s Gold to victory in the 1987 Affirmed Handicap here.
Barba hopes that Candi’s Gold’s grandson, Alphie’s Bet, follows in his footsteps Saturday in the $100,000 Grade III Affirmed for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track.
Alphie’s Bet, a California-bred by Tribal Rule out of the Candi’s Gold mare Miss Alphie, seeks his third stakes victory after scores in the Sham and Snow Chief. He leaves from post six in a field of nine with Mike Smith under high weight of 119 pounds.
“You tend to get a little high with a good horse and learned he needed to be more mature than he was for the Jim Murray,” said Barba of a distant 10th-place finish against older horses in the Grade II grass test at 1 ½ miles here on May 15 in his last start.
“This looks like a better spot, and he’s doing well,” said Barba of the colt, who has recorded three works since the Jim Murray. He has won three of eight starts and earned $261,320 for co-owners and breeders Teresa McWilliams and Peter and Ellen Johnson.
Barba also said that stablemate Make Music for Me, unplaced in the Belmont Stakes, came out of the race with a popped splint. “We’re taking care of it,” said Barba, hoping it would not cost him much time.
Trainer John Shirreffs watched superstar Zenyatta jog on the training track Thursday in her first appearance on the track since winning her third straight Vanity Handicap under 129 pounds Sunday to extend her unbeaten streak to a record 17.
“Just getting a little exercise,” said Shirreffs, who estimated a decision for her next start would be made in about two weeks.
During the interim, Shirreffs plans to unveil another multiple Grade I stakes winner that has won under 130 pounds. Scenic Blast, an Australian-bred 6-year-old gelding, could make his United States debut in the $60,000-added Robert K. Kerlan Memorial Handicap at six furlongs on turf here June 27.
Scenic Blast, the first Australian import that Shirreffs has conditioned, won three Group I stakes sprinting last year: the VRC Coolmore Lightning and Crown Newmarket in Australia and the Kings Stand at Royal Ascot in England under 130.
Scenic Blast has won eight of 21 starts and earned $1,396,843 for owner Aussie Raider.
Unzip Me, a 4-year-old filly riding a five-race winning streak, could test males for the first time in her next start, trainer Marty Jones said Thursday.
“We may go against the boys in the Kerlan,” said Jones, in reference to the $60,000-added Robert K. Kerlan Handicap at six furlongs on turf June 27, following a five-furlong work in 1:05.20 breezing on the grass under regular exercise rider Paddy Dalton.
The first and only female to win the race in its 21-year history was Cool Air in 1994 for trainer Gary Jones, Marty’s father.
Unzip Me, a California-bred by City Zip, has won stakes in her front-running style in her last three starts, most recently the Great Lady M at six furlongs on turf here May 21.
Agent George Ortuzar was ecstatic Thursday morning over the first victory in the United States for Peruvian apprentice Johnny Gihua aboard El Scorpio in the $43,000 feature Wednesday.
“Just a magnificent day for me and for him to get the monkey off his back,” said Ortuzar of the Peruvian apprentice champion who had gone winless in 34 starts at this meet before El Scorpio‘s half-length win in 1:08.25 for six furlongs on turf.
“He did so well down the lane,” said Ortuzar in reference to the front-running ride in which the horse fought back after a rival drew alongside in the stretch. “Johnny said the horse really dug in and showed courage and strength.
“We were so happy to win this for Doug (O’Neill), who has been so kind to us,” added Ortuzar of the 12-1 longshot. “He rode him to a second-place finish in his last start and Doug showed confidence for us in riding him back.
“I told Johnny he should get a tattoo of a scorpion,” said Ortuzar kiddingly. “We went out to dinner at a restaurant last night and said it was Johnny’s birthday. They brought out a cake with a candle and sang.
“Johnny was getting calls from Peru, everybody from his girlfriend and father to Jose Mesa, his teacher at the jockey school there,” Ortuzar continued.
“When Johnny first arrived here, I think he was a little intimidated. “The horses are so much faster and more powerful than the ones he was used to in Peru. But he’s more accustomed to them now. He’s more settled.”
Tuscan Evening, who stretched her winning streak to five in the Grade I Gamely Stakes here May 29, heads a list of 16 nominees to the $100,000 Beverly Hills Handicap, a Grade III test for fillies and mares at 1 ¼ miles on turf on June 26.
The 5-year-old Irish-bred mare, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, has won 11 of 26 starts and earned $1,049,408 for owner William de Burgh. Hollendorfer also nominated Pretty Katherine, winner of an allowance race here May 19, for a partnership that includes de Burgh.
Also nominated are Cat by the Tale, Catsalot, Daylumney, Eclaire de Lune, General Consensus, Gripsholm Castle, Lady Francesca, Princess Haya, Princess Taylor, Restless Soul, Rollerskates, Rosey de Megeve, Sweet and Flawless and Turning Top.
Hollywood Park-based Kinsale King, a graded stakes winner on two continents, shoots for three in England Saturday as part of a 24-horse field in the Group I Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot. Kieren Fallon will ride the 5-year-old gelding for trainer Carl O’Callaghan in the six-furlong sprint.
Kinsale King came into prominence with a victory in the Grade III Vernon Underwood Stakes here last December. He returned to win the Grade II Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita and traveled to Dubai to win the Group I Golden Shaheen Stakes there in March. The Golden Jubilee will be his first start on turf.
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