Several horses, riders and trainers with Betfair Hollywood Park connections are prominent on Saturday’s Belmont Stakes program.
The two runners who will draw the most West Coast attention are Jungle Racing, et al’s Mizdirection and William Peeples’ Let Em Shine.
Mizdirection, who is stabled with Mike Puype at Betfair Hollywood Park, won the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint last Nov. 3 and is on a four-race winning streak. The 5-year-old mare has been pegged the 7-2 third choice in the Grade I, $500,000 Just a Game at one mile on turf, which will go as the eighth race. She’ll leave from the number six post under jockey Mike Smith.
In the next race, the Grade II, $400,000 Woody Stephens at 7 furlongs, Let Em Shine will bid for his fourth consecutive victory. The son of Songandaprayer is the 3-1 morning line favorite and drew the outside post in the field of 11. Let Em Shine scored an easy victory in the Came Home Stakes – at the Stephens distance – May 11 on Cushion Track for trainer Adam Kitchingman and jockey Edwin Maldonado.
In the Belmont Stakes, four local riders have mounts. Smith will ride Palace Malice for Todd Pletcher; Gary Stevens is aboard Preakness winner Oxbow for D. Wayne Lukas; Garrett Gomez has the mount on Midnight Tango for Pletcher; and Julien Leparoux takes over Vyjack for Rudy Rodriguez.
In the Grade I, $500,000 Woodford Reserve, one race before the Belmont, Stevens rides Side Road (trainer Kiaran McLaughlin), Gomez pilots Midnight Taboo (Pletcher) and Leparoux handles Real Solution (Chad Brown).
Earlier on the card, Fast Bullet, who was entered and scratched from the Grade III Los Angeles Handicap May 27 at Betfair Hollywood Park, makes his first start of the year for trainer Bob Baffert in the Grade II, $400,000 True North.
ELLIS PAIR WORK HALF MILE FOR TRIPLE BEND
Centralinteligence and Majestic City, second and fourth, respectively, in the Grade III Los Angeles Handicap May 27, were back on the track for trainer Ron Ellis Wednesday morning preparing for the Grade I, $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap June 29.
Majestic City went a half-mile in 47 4/5 seconds while Centralintelligence covered the same distance in 48.
Also on the Wednesday work tab were double Grade I winner Executiveprivilege (five furlongs in 1:01 4/5) for trainer Bob Baffert and Del Mar Derby winner My Best Brother (a half-mile in 48 2/5) for trainer Julio Canani.
On Tuesday, Railbird Stakes winner Iotapa worked 5 furlongs in 59 3/5 under the watchful eye of John Sadler. The Afleet Alex filly is scheduled to return in the Grade II, $150,000 Hollywood Oaks June 22.
PLENTY OF ACTION SATURDAY AT BETFAIR HOLLYWOOD PARK
Not only will fans be able to watch and wager on the $1-million Belmont Stakes Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park, there will be 11 live races, including three stakes, and a host of other activity.
Post time will be two hours earlier than usual, at 11 a.m. The Belmont Stakes is scheduled for 3:36 PDT. Track gates at Betfair Hollywood Park will open at 8 a.m. The first simulcast from Belmont Park is 8:35 a.m.
In conjunction with the Belmont Stakes, the Belmont Dream Contest will be offered. Fans on track can enter a free drawing to win a $1,000 win wager on the Belmont participant of their choice.
The most lucrative of the three stakes is the Grade II, $200,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap at 1 1-4 miles on turf. Heading the field is multiple graded stakes winner and 2012 Whittingham runner-up Slim Shadey. Others in the field are Lucky Primo, 3-for-3 over the Betfair Hollywood Park turf, and All Squared Away, beaten a nose in the Grade II San Juan Capistrano Handicap April 21 at Santa Anita.
Also carded are the Grade II, $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1-8 miles and the $70,000-added Manhattan Beach for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs. Both are on turf.
LOGJAM ATOP BETFAIR HOLLYWOOD PARK STANDINGS
In contrast to last year, the 2013 field is well bunched in both the trainer and rider standings.
Heading into Thursday’s card, which marks the halfway point of the Spring/Summer meeting, the top four trainers were within three winners of each other and the top five riders were separated by just two victories.
In the trainer standings, John Sadler has 14 wins, followed by Hall of Famers Jerry Hollendorfer (12) and Bob Baffert (11). Peter Miller is tied with Baffert for fourth.
Rafael Bejarano, who served a three-day suspension over the weekend, leads Joe Talamo 28-27. Tyler Baze and Edwin Maldonado are next with 26.
During the 2012 Spring/Summer meeting, Baffert and Bejarano ran away and hid in their respective races.
CLOSING STRIDES —Halfway through the Betfair Hollywood Park Spring/Summer meet, Cushion Track sprints have played remarkably fair to all post positions. Only five percentage points separates post positions 1 through 10. Here’s the breakdown: 1 (13 ), 2 (14 %), 3 (15 %), 4 (12 %), 5 (13 %), 6 (15 %) 7 (10 %), 8 (10 %), 9 (11 %) and 10 (10). Post 11 is 1-for-10 while post 12 is 1-for-5. In Cushion Track routes, it’s a different story. The inside three posts have won 17, 17 and 24 per cent, respectively. Interestingly, post number 8 is 0-for-15 this meeting. The unlucky number for turf routes has been 10, which is 0-for-11……..Statistical note courtesy of Kevin Modesti, editorial writer for the L.A. Daily News: Each one of the nine graded stakes run thus far this meet has been won by a different trainer………Unusual Hottie, winner of the Fran’s Valentine in her last outing, tops a field 12 in Sunday’s $70,000 Redondo Beach Stakes at one mile on turf. The Unusual Heat filly is 2-for-2 starts since joining the barn of trainer Jeff Mullins.
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