Doug O’Neill successfully defended honors as leading trainer for the meet and Joel Rosario stood in a strong position to repeat as leading rider as the Hollywood Park spring-summer meet reached its final program today.
O’Neill returned from a 15-day suspension Saturday to send out My Maloof Rocker to victory in the seventh race and take a 28-26 lead over Bob Baffert. Baffert has only one starter remaining today.
O’Neill wrapped up his fifth Spring/Summer Meet crown here since 2003. He also led in 2005 and tied for top honors in 2007. O’Neill also won Autumn Meet titles here in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008.
Rosario moved closer to his second straight riding title here by winning the $196,000 Swaps Stakes Saturday aboard Skipshot to open a 77-73 lead over 2008 king Rafael Bejarano. Rosario has nine mounts today, Bejarano six.
Rosario, a 25-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, seeks his fourth title in the last six major stops on the Southern California circuit. He also led at Del Mar and the 2009 Autumn meet here.
Shawn Turner, co-owner of American Handicap winner Global Hunter, said the 7-year-old horse continues to show improvement after undergoing surgery on his front right ankle, which was injured after he crossed the finish line in the July 4 turf race.
“We had been getting good reports, but my family and I drove up Friday and spent three or four hours with him, and what we saw with our own eyes confirmed the reports,” said Turner. “He was healthy, happy, put full weight on the leg and had an eye on the mares.”
Global Hunter is recovering at Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center in Los Olivos in the Santa Ynez Valley.
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” said Turner of the Argentine-bred horse, a Grade I stakes winner with stud potential.
Hollywood Park will reopen for its Autumn Meet under the lights on Thursday, Nov. 4, for a season that will continue through Dec. 19. Opening week will include the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5-6.
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