Saturday was a pretty good day to be Joe Talamo.
Not only did the 23-year-old native of Louisiana sweep both stakes races at Betfair Hollywood Park, taking the $100,500 Fran’s Valentine with 9-2 shot Unusual Hottie and the $150,000, Grade II Marjorie L. Everett Handicap with 9-1 outsider Open Water, he got to see his mentor – Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens – go gate-to-wire aboard Oxbow, the upset ($32.80) winner of the Preakness.
“I thought it was great,” said Talamo. “I was so happy for Gary. Even as a little kid I always looked up to him. I remember I was 11 when he won (the 2001 Preakness) with Point Given.
“We’ve become really close. He’s given me a lot of pointers, which I’m thankful for, so I’m really happy for him.”
UPCOMING FIVE DAY RACE WEEK HIGHLIGHTED BY GRADE I GAMELY MAY 27
A 5-day racing week kicks off Thursday at Betfair Hollywood Park and ends with a special Memorial Day card Monday, May 27, featuring the $250,000 Gamely Stakes, the first Grade I of the Spring/Summer meet.
A field of eight or nine fillies and mares, including several multiple graded stakes winners, are scheduled to run in the Gamely, which will be contested at 1 1-8 miles on turf.
Heading the list of likely starters is Hronis Racing, LLC’s Lady of Shamrock, winner of two Grade I races in 2012, including the American Oaks over the Betfair Hollywood Park grass. Rafael Bejarano has the call for trainer John Sadler.
Also expected to participate are Glen Hill Farm’s Marketing Mix, who took the Grade I Rodeo Drive at Santa Anita last September. Gary Stevens, fresh from his upset aboard Oxbow in the Preakness at Pimlico, will ride for trainer Tom Proctor.
Others in the star-filled lineup are venerable California bred Halo Dolly (no rider), a 15-time winner who won the Grade III Wilshire Handicap April 28, Tiz Flirtatious (Julien Leparoux), victorious in the Grade II Santa Ana Stakes last month at Santa Anita, Quiet Oasis (Corey Nakatani), runner-up in last year’s Gamely, and comebacking My Gi Gi (Edwin Maldonado), winner of the Grade II Honeymoon Handicap in 2012.
Rounding out the probables are Long Face (no rider), second to Halo Dolly in the Wilshire, and Private Affair, a Grade III winner in her native Peru.
The Memorial Day card will also offer the $100,000 Los Angeles Handicap, a Grade III for older horses at six furlongs over Cushion Track.
Heading the field are Camp Victory (trainer Mike Mitchell, jockey Joe Talamo), winner of the 2011 Los Angeles Handicap and third a year ago, Comma To the Top (Peter Miller, Edwin Maldonado), winner of the Grade I CashCall Futurity in 2010 and the Cool Frenchy Stakes May 4.
Centralintelligence (Ron Ellis, no rider) will compete in his second consecutive Los Angeles. The Smarty Jones gelding defeated Camp Victory when finishing second in last year’s edition. Entering Sunday’s card, trainer Ron Ellis was just five short of 1,000 career victories. Ellis will also saddle Majestic City (David Flores) in the Los Angeles.
Chosen Miracle (Jerry Hollendorfer, Corey Nakatani) will be among the entrants in the sprint, as will an undetermined number of Bob Baffert runners. The trainer has six nominated to the race.
Fanticola or Scardino’s Obviously tops the probables for Saturday’s Grade II $150,000 American Handicap for older horses at one mile on turf.
Trained by Mike Mitchell, the 5-year-old was a close third in the Grade III San Simeon in his first start of the year. In 2012, the Irish bred won a pair of Grade II races and was third behind Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Mile. Regular rider Joe Talamo will be aboard.
Schiaparelli, who gave Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner and stablemate Mizdirection all she could handle when finishing second in the Las Cienegas Stakes April 13, is the likely favorite for Sunday’s $70,000 Great Lady M Stakes at six furlongs on turf.
MIZDIRECTION WORKS SIX FURLONGS FOR PUYPE
Jungle Stable’s Mizdirection, winner of the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, worked six furlongs under exercise rider Manny Landeros Sunday morning on the Betfair Hollywood Park turf.
“It was a nice and even work,” said Puype. “Just what we wanted. She got a little rank when she broke off, but she always does that.”
Puype said he got the work in “1:14 and change.” Her official time was 1:15 3/5, according to track clocker Russ Hudak.
After winning the Las Cienegas Stakes April 13, Puype indicated Mizdirection’s next start would be in the $500,000 Just a Game Stakes at one mile on turf Belmont Stakes Day (June 8). Those plans remain unchanged.
SATURDAY STAKES RUNNERS RETURN IN GOOD SHAPE
The main participants in Saturday’s Fran’s Valentine Stakes and Marjorie L. Everett Handicap returned in good shape, according to their connections.
Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said he scoped his four stakes starters after the races and they came up clean. Top Kisser finished third as the favorite in the Fran’s Valentine. Lady of Fifty, (the beaten favorite) Sister Kate and Lady Aspen, second, fifth, and sixth, respectively, in the Everett were all fine Sunday morning.
John Daley, assistant to trainer Eric Guillot, said that Everett winner Open Water came back great and is on course for the Vanity. Jeff Mullins, who sent out Fran’s Valentine winner Unusual Hottie also was pleased with how the daughter of Unusual Heat came out of the race.
VETERAN HORSE PLAYERS DO A DOUBLE TAKE IN SATURDAY’S FINALE
With the Grade I Gamely Stakes coming up, veteran race fans must have done a double take when they saw a first time filly named Manta in Saturday’s 11th race at Betfair Hollywood Park.
An Elmendorf bred and Farrell Jones-trained mare, also named Manta, was a top-class female who raced in the early 1970’s. The original Manta was an 18-time winner with a bankroll of $502,000, a sizable amount in those days. She won the 1971 Long Beach Handicap – which is now known as the Gamely – and was third to the brilliant Typecast in the same race the following year.
Based on her debut, the modern day Manta bears no resemblance to her predecessor. The daughter of Council Member finished sixth, almost 10 lengths behind winner Only Josie Knows in the $20,000 maiden claimer.
CLOSING STRIDES —Trainer John Sadler stated he scratched More Chocolate from Saturday’s Grade II Marjorie L. Everett Handicap to run in the Grade I $250,000 Vanity Handicap Saturday, June 15…….. Leandro Mora (assistant, Doug O’Neill), said that Goldencents was none the worse for wear after finishing fifth in the Preakness. The 3-year-old is scheduled to fly home to California today. O’Neill is also en route and was expected to saddle Flower Power in Sunday’s first race at Betfair Hollywood Park….Agent Tony Matos advises that Garrett Gomez will be at Arlington Park Saturday to ride in a trio of $150,000 stakes…..Trainer Mike Mitchell reported that Dhaamer, winner of the recent Round Table Stakes, is doing super and right on target for a title defense in the (Grade III, $100,000) Sunset Handicap (closing day, Sunday, July 14)……..Eclipse Award winner Beholder, recently second to Princess of Sylmar in the Kentucky Oaks, has been sent to Julie Adair’s farm for a break, according to trainer Richard Mandella. The Hall of Famer indicated she’s fine but he wanted to give her a little rest……Two weeks into the $2,500 winner-take-all Show Me the Money contest, only 30 of the original 1,744 contestants remain alive.
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