There was something old and something new in the Mike Mitchell barn in quest of a stakes sweep at Hollywood Park next weekend.
Something new is Dehere Again, a 4-year-old Australian import scheduled to make his United States debut in the $100,000 Los Angeles Handicap, a Grade III test at six furlongs on Cushion Track Saturday.
Something old is Church Service, a 6-year-old gelding seeking redemption in the $100,000 Gallant Man Handicap, a 1 5/8-mile marathon on Cushion Track next Sunday.
Both horses, owned by Dan Capen and Robert Tjosvold, worked five furlongs in identical times of 1:01.40 here Sunday.
Dehere Again, a chestnut gelding by Dehere, won two of four starts at six furlongs on turf in Australia. Aaron Gryder has the stakes call.
“My son-in-law picked him out,” said Mitchell of Craig “Boomer” Rounsefell, managing director of Boomer Bloodstock in Queensland, Australia. “I told him if this one wins, I’ll get another one.”
Church Service, who was pulled up and walked off in his last start in the San Juan Capistrano Handicap April 19 at Santa Anita, will try to regain the form that made him one of the better route horses in California last year.
“It was a real hot day, and I think he was just dehydrated,” said Mitchell of Church Service’s last start during a 94-degree heat wave. Church Service cashed checks in his previous eight starts for more than $300,000 since being claimed for $50,000 in January, 2008, by Mitchell.
Rafael Bejarano has the Gallant Man call for Mitchell. The pair teamed to win the inaugural last year with Big Booster, who worked four furlongs in :50.20 on Sunday.
Other probable Gallant Man starters include Stream Cat (Joseph Talamo), Power Blitz (Alex Solis) and Ispingo (Joel Rosario). Isipingo, claimed in his last start at Santa Anita April 10 for $40,000, worked four furlongs Sunday in :49.20 for new trainer Doug O’Neill.
Others under consideration for the Los Angeles include 2006 winner Siren Lure, 2007 third-place finisher Northern Soldier, Paul’s Hope, Red Arrow, Soul City Slew and Guns On the Table.
Guns On the Table, a 4-year-old colt trained by Bob Baffert, will be making his first start for new ownership. Bob Ike and Brett Lindenbaum, managing partners of a new syndicate called Summit Racing LLC, bought the colt privately a few weeks ago from John Connelly and family’s Stetson Land and Cattle LLP and brought in additional partners Jeff Lewis, racing manager for Robert and Beverly Lewis Trust; Pete Parrella of Legacy Ranch, and Dennis Hogan.
Guns On the Table will be the first horse Summit Racing starts in California although the syndicate had a few starters at the recently concluded Sunland Park meet in New Mexico.
LIFE IS SWEET WORKS SIX FURLONGS FOR MILADY
Life Is Sweet, female champion of the Santa Anita meet, worked six furlongs in 1:11.80 on Cushion Track under exercise rider Isabelle Bourez Sunday for a potential showdown with unbeaten Eclipse Award winner Zenyatta in the $150,000 Milady Handicap May 23.
Trainer John Shirreffs said both stars remained on a collision course in the Grade II test at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track. Zenyatta won the Milady last year en route to extending her victory string to ten.
Shirreffs initially hoped to keep the females apart by shipping Zenyatta to Churchill Downs for her season bow in the Louisville Distaff on May 1 but scratched the 5-year-old mare because of a muddy track. She worked here following her return last week and will work once more before the Milady, according to Shirreffs.
Life Is Sweet, a 4-year-old filly, won three graded stakes at Santa Anita, including the Grade I Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap.
U S RANGER WORKS FOR SHOEMAKER
U S Ranger worked four furlongs in :49.20 on turf to the satisfaction of trainer Neil Drysdale Sunday in preparation for the $250,000-added Grade I Shoemaker Mile on May 25.
Exercise rider Derek Oldham was aboard the 5-year-old horse, who finished third in a three-horse photo finish in the Inglewood Handicap in his last start here April 26.
Drysdale has won the Shoemaker three times, with Labeeb in 1998, Irish Prize in 2001 and Aragorn in 2006, one shy of the record four set by Jim Nazworthy when the race was called the Premiere Handicap.
MAGICAL FANTASY DRILLS FOR GAMELY
Magical Fantasy worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 on turf Sunday under regular jockey Alex Solis for the $250,000-added Gamely Stakes on May 30. The Grade I test is for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
“It seemed nice,” said trainer Paddy Gallagher, who watched the drill with co-owner Chuck Winner. “It was her first work since she ran.”
Magical Fantasy, a 4-year-old filly, edged Black Mamba — another probable Gamely starter — by a nose in the Grade II Santa Barbara Handicap on the Santa Anita turf on April 18. She won the Grade I Del Mar Oaks last year.
“She was really strong,” said Solis. “She wanted to go.”
Trainer Doug O’Neill said Modification, third-place finisher in the Grade I Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs Saturday, would probably make her next start in the Gamely.
MARIE BIANCONE TO SADDLE FIRST STARTER
Marie Biancone, daughter of trainer Patrick Biancone, looks forward to making her training debut at Hollywood Park.
“My 28th birthday is today,” said Biancone Sunday from her stable office in Barn 50. “It was a great present yesterday.”
Biancone referred to an upset victory in the $150,000, Grade II Mervyn LeRoy Handicap Saturday by Ball Four, trained by her father.
“I grew up around racing all my life and got my license about a month ago,” said Biancone. “I was born in France, moved to the U.S. five years ago and worked with my father for three years.”
Biancone said she is currently training six horses. She scratched Grand Symphony, a 4-year-old filly, from a $25,000 maiden claiming race Sunday for another spot here.
Patrick Biancone, fresh off the Mervyn LeRoy victory, said he would try again next Sunday with Stream Cat in the $100,000 Gallant Man Handicap.
FINISH LINES — Pretty Unusual, Lady Lumberjack and Music Magic were all scratched from the Railbird Stakes Sunday for softer spots at this meet.
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