Owner-breeder Marty Wygod said Life Is Sweet may make her next start against males in the TVG/Betfair Hollywood Gold Cup after the multiple stakes-winning 4-year-old filly worked six furlongs in a bullet 1:11 on Cushion Track at Hollywood Park Thursday.
“She worked great this morning,” said Wygod. “It’s between running her against Zenyatta next Saturday in the Vanity or in the Gold Cup two weeks later. I’ll play it by ear and see who is probably running in the Gold Cup.”
Life Is Sweet was named champion female of the Santa Anita meet after sweeping the El Encino and La Canada stakes and the Santa Margarita Handicap but was no match for unbeaten Eclipse Award winner Zenyatta in her season debut in the Milady Handicap here May 23, finishing 1 ¾ lengths behind in second.
“I would rather run against Zenyatta at Santa Anita,” said Wygod. “Gomez (jockey Garrett Gomez) said she likes the surface there better.” Both female stars are trained by John Shirreffs.
Life Is Sweet, a full sister to 2004 2-year-old filly champion Sweet Catomine, has won five of 11 starts and earned $570,810. All her starts have been against females.
The last female to win the Gold Cup was Princessnesian in 1968. She was the third, following Happy Issue in 1944 and Two Lea in 1952. The $700,000 Gold Cup is a Grade I test at 1 ¼ miles on July 11.
Zenyatta is scheduled to defend her Vanity crown in quest of her 11th straight victory. The $300,000, Grade I test will be run at 1 1/8 miles on June 27.
Zenyatta won the Milady under 126 pounds, four more than Life Is Sweet. The 5-year-old mare won the Vanity last year under 124 with regular rider Mike Smith up.
The last horse to repeat in the Vanity was champion Azeri, also under Smith, in 2002 and 2003. Other repeat winners are It’s In The Air in 1979-80, Convenience in 1972-73 and Annie Lu-San in 1957-58.
Joining Zenyatta and Life Is Sweet as nominees to the Vanity are Allicansayiswow, Briecat, Dawn After Dawn, Forest Melody, Hot n’ Dusty, Modification and You Lift Me Up.
Arden Park, runner-up in the Alcatraz Stakes on the Golden Gate Fields turf in his last start May 23, was shipped south today after being entered in the $100,000 Cinema Handicap on Sunday, according to trainer Greg Gilchrist. The Grade III test for 3-year-olds will be run at 1 1/8 miles on grass.
Arden Park, a Kentucky-bred son of Ecton Park, rallied from fifth to finish second in the 1 1/16-mile Alcatraz, beaten by one length. “The pace was very slow in the Alcatraz and we gave ourselves a little too much to do, but he was closing,” said Gilchrist from Golden Gate. “I think the mile and an eighth will help him also.”
Arden Park, owned by Roger Dreyer’s Arden Village Lifestyle, has recorded two firsts and one second in four starts. “He doesn’t have the most experience, but he’s gaining and seems to be a fast learner,” said Gilchrist. Arden Park drew post six in a field of eight.
Rafael Bejarano, leading rider at the Hollywood Park meet, will be aboard the colt for the first time. Bejarano begins a three-day suspension Sunday but will be able to ride in the Cinema because it is a designated race.
Bejarano was cited by track stewards for careless riding, failure to make the proper effort to maintain a straight course in the stretch and causing interference with Digestivo in the sixth race on June 13, which resulted in the disqualification of his mount from third to fourth.
Jockey Victor Espinoza will seek a record-equaling third straight Cinema victory aboard Herr Mozart after scores aboard Worldly in 2007 and Tiz West last year. The only riders with three consecutive Cinema victories in its 62-year history are Milo Valenzuela from 1954-56, Laffit Pincay Jr. from 1968-70 and Gary Stevens from 1989-91.
With Father’s Day weekend upon us, Quindici Man hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps Saturday and win the $100,000 Affirmed Handicap, a race won in 2002 by his sire, Came Home.
“That would be nice,” said trainer Craig Lewis Thursday of the consistent gray/roan colt, who has registered three firsts and four seconds in 11 starts. The Grade III Affirmed is for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track.
Quindici Man began his career as a 2-year-old with trainer Henry Dominguez in New Mexico before owner Dick Scibelli of Connecticut transferred him to Lewis on this circuit last fall.
Quindici Man finished a non-threatening fifth in the seven-furlong Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes here on May 24 in his last start. “He’s a better router, no doubt,” said Lewis. “We ran him in the Laz Barrera because we had few other options and needed to get a race into him. More ground is desirable.”
Quindici Man drew post four in a field of six under Joel Rosario. “If he runs well, he could return in the Swaps,” said Lewis of the $300,000 Swaps Stakes at 1 1/8 miles July 17. Came Home won that one too.
Defending champion Black Mamba tops a list of 11 nominees to the $150,000, Grade II Beverly Hills Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 ¼ miles on turf June 28.
Black Mamba, a 6-year-old New Zealand-bred mare trained by John Sadler, seeks to become the first repeat winner in the race since Astra in 2002.
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