There is something for everybody in the $100,000 Grade III Wilshire Handicap for fillies and mares at one mile on the Hollywood Park turf Saturday.
There is the proven millionaire Evening Jewel, the probable favorite. There is Grade II stakes winner Well Monied, returning from an 11-month layoff. There is Vamo a Galupiar, a Group I winner in Chile making her United States debut. There is Dubawi Heights, seeking her third straight victory after a pair of sharp scores. There is Talktoomuch, who has won six of eight starts on this course.
Evening Jewel, a Grade I winner on dirt and grass, has won seven of 18 starts and seeks to add to her earnings of $1,217,943. The California-bred 4-year-old filly finished fourth in the Madison Stakes at Keeneland on April 14 in her last start.
“She didn’t handle the track as well as she could have,” said trainer Jim Cassidy Sunday from Santa Anita. “They had had a lot of rain and it was pretty dead. She came back last Monday and seems good right now. She will work here Monday.” Regular rider Victor Espinoza has the Wilshire call.
Evening Jewel won the Grade II Honeymoon Handicap last year in her only start on this turf course, the same race that Well Monied won in 2009.
Trainer Howie Zucker is glad to have the 5-year-old mare back on the comeback trail.
“She hurt herself in training about a month after her last start in the Gamely,” said Zucker from Santa Anita, in reference to a fourth-place finish here last May. “She was a buyback at the Keeneland November sale by her owner (C.T. Grether).
“She looked so fabulous at the sale, I was glad he didn’t sell her so I could have another chance with her,” said Zucker. “She came back last year off a long layoff to win, and she’s training better than ever.” Rafael Bejarano has the call.
Trainer Mike Mitchell said that Talktoomuch, a 7-year-old mare he claimed here in November for $32,000, deserved a chance in graded stakes company. “She’s such a neat little mare,” said Mitchell, happy with a six-furlong work in 1:12.80 on Cushion Track Saturday. “We’re going to take a shot.” Joe Talamo will ride.
Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale is anxious to unveil Chilean import Vamo a Galupiar, a 4-year-old filly who joined his stable last winter after winning three of four starts, including the Group I Clasico Arturo Lyon Pena at one mile on turf at Club Hippico.
Dubawi Heights, an English-bred 4-year-old filly, has been making steady progress for trainer Simon Callaghan. After breaking her maiden here in November, she came back to win an allowance race on the Santa Anita turf April 1. Joel Rosario has the return call.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer worked a pair of candidates on the turf: Lilly Fa Pootz, five furlongs in a bullet 1:02; and Hemera, six furlongs in 1:15. Hollendorfer said Lilly Fa Pootz was definite for the Wilshire, and Hemera was possible. Corey Nakatani will ride one.
Martin Pedroza has a call with trainer Paco Gonzalez on Burg Berg, runner-up in the Grade II Royal Heroine Mile here last year.
Two other nominees worked on Cushion Track: Saannen four furlongs in 50.80, and Givine five furlongs in 1:00.20.
Another talented import nominated is Middle Club, a Group III winner in France last year. Trainer John Shirreffs said the 4-year-old filly would probably make a later start.
The Wilshire serves as a prep for the Grade I Gamely Stakes May 30.
NAHEM MAYHEM AFTER SNOW CHIEF WIN
Co-owner and co-breeder Cory Wellman said she felt a powerful presence in her favor before Nahem won the $150,000 Snow Chief Stakes, feature race on the California Gold Rush card Saturday.
Nahem, a 3-year-old gelding who posted a 12-1 upset in his stakes debut, is named in memory of owner-breeder Eddie Nahem, a zany and colorful character who died three years ago.
“Between the fifth and sixth races, there was an acrid smell of pot in the area where we were sitting, and we couldn’t figure out where it was coming from,” said Wellman, with husband Mike. “Our son said, ‘Nahem is here.’”
Nahem, making his fifth start for trainer Paddy Gallagher, may have felt some divine inspiration as he rallied late under Victor Espinoza and outfinished Woodmans Luck to win by a head.
“If this horse gets any better, we’re going to have to bring our hats out,” said Mike Wellman, in reference to Eddie Nahem’s wild haberdashery.
Gallagher said Nahem came back in good shape from the race but had not formulated any plans. “I’ll see what comes up,” said Gallagher. “He seems very adaptable (for any surface).”
Trainer Marty Jones reported that Drink At Buster’s, who was eased in the stretch and vanned off after finishing last in the Snow Chief, was retired with a fractured sesamoid in his left front ankle. “We’re going to find him a home,” said Jones of the Meadowbrook Farms homebred.
Trainer Cliff Sise said that Miles Rules returned in good order from her first stakes win in the $125,000 Melair for 3-year-old fillies and could return in the Grade III Railbird May 21. The Halo Farms homebred by Tribal Rule is named for Miles Himmel, son of San Diego television weatherman Larry Himmel.
Trainer Art Sherman said that the ultra consistent Ultra Blend would be looking at graded stakes races after her fourth California-bred stakes win in five starts in the $125,000 B. Thoughtful for fillies and mares.
Owner Nels Erickson of Reno was thrilled with his first stakes winner, who pushed her earnings over the $500,000 mark with her ninth win in 20 starts. “She’s nominated to the Breeders’ Cup,” said Erickson, looking at long-range goals.
Amazombie continued to add to his credentials as one of the top sprinters in the country with a facile victory in the $125,000 Tiznow. “This was the scariest of all: a different rider, a longer distance,” said co-owner Tom Sanford after the 5-year-old gelding had no trouble with either 7 ½ furlongs or Joel Rosario pinch-hitting for out-of-town Mike Smith. Trainer and co-owner Bill Spawr said Amazombie, already a Grade II winner, could ship for the Grade II True North Handicap at Belmont June 11 or train up to the Grade I Triple Bend Handicap here at seven furlongs July 2.
Espinoza rode two winners on the card to raise his leading total in the Gold Rush to 19 while trainer Bob Baffert increased his lead with his ninth win.
TYLER BAZE EYES RETURN TO SADDLE
Jockey Tyler Baze, sidelined since being injured last summer, is scheduled to return to the saddle next week, his new agent, Craig O’Bryan, said Sunday.
“He has three calls for Thursday,’’ said O’Bryan. “He has been getting on horses for about a month at Turf Paradise and will have his first start back there (Only Grace for trainer Kevin Lewis in the third race) Monday.”
Baze, 28, suffered broken facial bones and lingering vision problems after his mount (Night Justice) acted up approaching the starting gate prior to the fifth race last July 24 at Del Mar.
Baze is part of a new wave of top young riders on the Southern California circuit. He won his first riding title at the 2004 Spring/Summer Meet and won the 2008 Hollywood Gold Cup with Mast Track.
Veteran agent O’Bryan said he will also continue to represent jockey David Flores.Besides Only Grace, Baze also has a call in the second race Wednesday at Turf Paradise on Yougottabekiddinme for trainer Justin Treasure.
His three mounts on the Thursday card at Hollywood Park are Southern Sugah in the third, Joyful Success in the sixth and Krasavitsa in the eighth.
FINISH LINES—Joel Rosario has taken a call to ride Shakenwithanolive, a stakes winner from Turf Paradise, in the $70,000-added Time To Leave Stakes for fillies and mares at five furlongs May 1 at Hollywood Park…Sidney’s Candy worked six furlongs on Cushion Track in 1:13 and Spurrier drilled the same distance in 1:12.80 for a possible meeting in the $150,000 Grade II Mervyn LeRoy Handicap May 7…Providencia Stakes winner Cambina worked five furlongs on turf in 1:02.40 for the $100,000 Grade III Senorita Stakes for 3-year-old fillies May 7…Zazu worked seven furlongs in 1:27.20 for the Kentucky Oaks, where she will be ridden by Joel Rosario May 6…Trainer Peter Miller said that CashCall Futurity winner and Santa Anita Derby runner-up Comma to the Top would work here Monday for a probable trip to the May 7 Kentucky Derby with Patrick Valenzuela …Happy birthday to trainers Mike Mitchell , 63 Monday, and Jack Carava , 45 Thursday….The lone winning ticket in Saturday’s Pick 6, which was worth $100,746, cost $480 and was purchased at Pleasanton.
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