INGLEWOOD, Calif. (October 8, 2010)—Scenic Blast, a Group I winner on two continents, will seek his first victory in the United States in the $100,000 Morvich Handicap Monday at Oak Tree/Hollywood Park.
A Grade III at six furlongs on turf, the Morvich is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In’’ Challenge race. The winner earns a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, which will be run Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs.
Owned by Aussie Raider and trained by John Shirreffs, Scenic Blast’s best finish in three races in California was a runner-up effort behind Smiling Tiger in the Bing Crosby Handicap over the Polytrack at Del Mar on Aug. 1.
In his lone try on the Hollywood Park turf course, the 6-year-old Scenic gelding out of the Delgado mare Daughter’s Charm was fourth in the Robert K. Kerlan Memorial Handicap on June 27 at the Morvich distance.
Scenic Blast, who earned his most significant victories in the Newmarket Handicap in his native Australia and the King’s Stand Stakes at Ascot in England, has won eight of 24 and earned $1,454,042. He will carry high weight of 120 pounds.
Four of the remaining nine entered in the Morvich have a win over the Hollywood Park turf.
Dilemma, a 6-year-old Grand Slam horse out of the Tabasco Cat mare Heavenly Cat, has a first and a second in two local grass appearances. The victory came in an allowance at 1 1/8 miles on Nov. 12, 2008.
Last after a slow start in his return after more than 18 months on the sidelines in the Green Flash Handicap on Aug. 18 at Del Mar, Dilemma will be looking for his sixth win in his 20th start. He has earned $286,256 for owner Glen Hill Farm and trainer Paddy Gallagher.
A 6-year-old High Brite gelding and the Moscow Ballet mare Donna B. Quick, Quick Enough picked up his Hollywood Park turf win on June 21, 2008. Beaten a head by defending Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champion California Flag in the Green Flash, Quick Enough has won six of 13 while banking $218,120.
Doug O’Neill, who claimed Quick Enough for $40,000 out of a win on Aug. 5 for owners Michael Bello, Russell Sarno and Suarez Racing, Inc., is aiming for his first Morvich score.
Quietly Mine is a 6-year-old Belong to Me gelding who has won five of 27 and earned $371,839. His local turf win came against $32,000 claimers on May 10. His last appearance in a graded stakes on grass came when he was ninth in the Nearctic on Oct. 4, 2008 at Woodbine.
Bradium is a 3-year-old Forestry colt and the Rahy mare Spontaneous who has won two of his last four on turf for owner Cory Wagner and trainer Mark Glatt. He earned his maiden win here on May 31. He’s 2-for-7 with earnings of $77,760.
The hottest horse in the field is Connagher. A 4-year-old In Excess gelding out of the Opening Verse mare Shadow’s Smile, he has won four in a row for owners Juan Quinonez, Jr. and Mary West and trainer Ted H. West.
After finishing fourth in his career debut on May 28, Connagher has won twice over synthetic at Hollywood Park and Del Mar and two times over the turf at Del Mar. He has earned $104,976.
Both Tropic Storm and Truest Legend were also entered in stakes races Saturday, the former the $150,000 Oak Tree Mile and the latter the $250,000 Ancient Title Stakes.
Trained by Craig Dollase for West Point Thoroughbreds, Tropic Storm was last seen wiring five opponents in the Windy Sands Handicap on Sept. 4 at Del Mar. The 6-year-old Stormy Atlantic gelding and the Valid Appeal mare Diplomatic Angel has won six of 15 and earned $379,805. He has never been worse than third in three races on turf, winning once.
A 4-year-old Songandaprayer colt out of the Boston Harbor mare Sydney’s Kiss, Truest Legend will be making his first start on grass. Trained by Brian Koriner, he has won twice in six outings for Truline Racing and earned $68,059.
Completing the field are Afleet Ruler, who has been 1-2-3 in five of six on turf and Lt. Hopeful, who most recently was fifth, beaten less than one length, in the Green Flash.
Owned by Joy Ride Racing and trained by John Sadler, Afleet Ruler is a 5-year-old Northern Afleet horse and the Pirate’s Bounty mare Canyon Winds who has won three of 16. His bankroll sits at $240,036. Sadler has won the Morvich two of the last five years. His victories came with Geronimo (2005) and Get Funky (2007).
Lt. Hopeful has won three of 13 and earned $113,282. The 4-year-old Bernstein gelding out of the Bright Launch mare Bright Orange is owned by Budget Stable and trained by Janet Armstrong.
The Morvich is the seventh of nine races. Post time for the Columbus Day program is 1 p.m.
From inside out, the field for the 37th Morvich Handicap: Truest Legend, Joe Talamo rides, 113 pounds; Quietly Mine, Martin Garcia, 113; Scenic Blast, Victor Espinoza, 120; Afleet Ruler, Joel Rosario, 115; Connagher, Rafael Bejarano, 113; Quick Enough, Patrick Valenzuela, 114; Dilemma, Corey Nakatani, 114; Tropic Storm, David Flores, 118; Lt. Hopeful, Alonso Quinonez, 114 and Bradium, Jesus Velazquez, 111.
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