INGLEWOOD, Calif. (December 15, 2011)—Megastar won for the first time in nearly 19 months, edging favored Uncle Sam by a nose to take the $52,000 feature Thursday at Hollywood Park.
Taking advantage of a quick pace, the 5-year-old Malibu Moon gelding cruised up to join Uncle Sam after the 7-10 choice had disposed of the newly-blinkered longshot Bonfire Knight, then won a hard fought decision under left handed urging from jockey Joe Talamo.
Owned by Jay Em Ess Stable, the 9-1 shot gave trainer Ron Ellis his second victory of the day. Ellis won the second race with Duplo Rapido.
Out of the Rock Royalty mare Royal Veagess, Megastar ran the 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track in 1:43.33. The win was his third in 16 starts and pushed his earnings to $146,670. He paid $20.20, $6.20 and $3.20.
Before Thursday, Megastar, who was bred at Clarkland Farm in Kentucky, was winless in five races over synthetic surfaces. The win was his first since a head victory over Shediak in a $46,392 allowance on turf May 31, 2010 at Hollywood Park.
The beaten favorite in five of his last six races, Uncle Sam returned $2.60 and $2.20. Dynamic Host, the 5-2 second choice, paid $2.40 to show while finishing a half-length behind Uncle Sam and a head in front of Balladry.
Bonfire Knight, who was ridden by Corey Nakatani, completed the order of finish, weakening badly after being hustled early to make the lead inside Uncle Sam.
Eighth on the all-time list at Hollywood Park with 1,171 victories, Nakatani has recently returned to ride full time in Southern California. He’s won 105 races in 2011 and ranks 15th on the earnings list with more than $7.9 million.
Later in the program, trainer Doug O’Neill collected his 500th victory at Hollywood Park when 3-1 shot Pop the Cork rallied to take the eighth race. The ninth trainer to reach the milestone at the track, O’Neill earned win No. 499 when 1-5 favorite Liberal Arts easily captured the fourth race.
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