INGLEWOOD, Calif. (July 1, 2012)—Making his first start in more than seven months, John Johny Jak was the upset winner of the $70,800 Robert K. Kerlan Memorial Handicap (video) Sunday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Unfortunately, the 5-year-old Wildcat Heir ridgling suffered an injury to his right front shoulder while pulling up after the finish. The Florida bred was returned to trainer Kristin Mulhall’s barn for further evaluation, according to the Betfair Hollywood Park stewards.
Owned by Kretz Racing LLC, John Johny Jak received a ground saving trip from leading jockey Rafael Bejarano while tracking the pace set by favored Comma to the Top, split horses at the top of the stretch and went on to win by 1 ¾ lengths.
Racing for the first time since he finished fourth in the Grade II Citation Handicap won last Nov. 26 by Jeranimo, who captured the Grade I, $300,000 Shoemaker Mile Saturday, John Johny Jak ran the six furlongs on turf in 1:08.63.
Out of the Saint Ballado mare Pure Adrenaline, John Johny Jak earned his ninth win in 25 starts and pushed his bankroll to $342,279.
The 7-1 fourth choice in the field of eight, John Johny Jak paid $16.40, $7.20 and $3.40. Obviously, the 5-2 second choice, returned $4.20 and $3.20 while finishing 2 ¼ lengths in front of Comma to the Top.
The 19-10 favorite who had won the Grade III Generous in 2010 in his lone previous start over the Betfair Hollywood Park grass, Comma to the Top paid $3 to show.
Great Warrior finished fourth, followed by defending champion Gallant Son, Rauschenberg, Victory Pete and Dancing in Silks.
The Kerlan victory was the second of three Sunday for Bejarano. Heading into the final nine days of the Spring/Summer meet, Bejarano holds a 61-37 lead over runner-up Joe Talamo in the rider standings.
Racing will resume Wednesday. Post time for the special 4th of July holiday program is 1 p.m. Veterans and active duty personnel – with military identification – will receive free general admission.
The feature event is the $150,000 Swaps Stakes. A Grade II for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles over Cushion Track, the Swaps attracted Affirmed Handicap winner Nonios, Liaison, the winner of the Grade I CashCall Futurity in 2011, Blueskiesnrainbows, Rousing Sermon, All Squared Away, Empire Way and Called to Serve.
The Hollywood Park Casino will be open for dark day simulcasts Monday and Tuesday. Admission is free. The first simulcast goes at 10:10 a.m.
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