Trainer John Shirreffs shoots for a transcontinental stakes sweep Saturday when he saddles Mr. Commons in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico while sending out Makoma in the Milady Handicap at Hollywood Park.
Assistant Michelle Jensen will saddle Makoma in the absence of her boss in Maryland and hopes for a replay of Kentucky Derby Day in 2005, when she saddled Hollywood Story to victory in the Hawthorne Handicap here shortly after Shirreffs sent out Giacomo to a startling upset at Churchill Downs.
Victor Espinoza, who won on Hollywood Story after she nearly fell on the first turn, has the Preakness call on Mr. Commons, who drew the outside post in a field of 14 and was listed at 20-1 in the morning line. The Preakness will be simulcast here Saturday during a card that begins early – 11 a.m. first post.
“That’s my thought,” said Jensen Thursday of her hopes for a replay.
“Makoma is at the top of her game now and is a beautiful mover. I’m going to school her during the first race today.”
Makoma, a homebred owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, will make her stakes debut after two wins in five starts. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly is by Malibu Moon out of the Dixieland Band mare Rhapsodic and will be ridden for the first time by Chantal Sutherland.
Makoma seeks to give Shirreffs his fourth victory in six years in the Milady, a Grade II test for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track. The conditioner won with Proposed in 2006 before scoring twice with the legendary Zenyatta for the Mosses in 2008 and 2009.
Trainer Bob Baffert also seeks a Preakness-Milady sweep. He will saddle Midnight Interlude with Martin Garcia in quest of a sixth Preakness win and send out American Story with Alonso Quinonez in quest of an initial Milady score.
After agonizing much of the week, trainer Art Sherman elected to run Ultra Blend in her first try in graded stakes company in the Milady instead of the Fran’s Valentine Stakes for California-breds Sunday. “I’m going to try her,” said Sherman of the multiple Cal-bred stakes winner. “I think it’s the time. I hope I’m right.”
GOLDWAKI NEARS U.S. BOW FOR McANALLY
Goldwaki, a Group III winner in France, neared his United States debut for Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally with a seven-furlong work on turf in 1:32 here Thursday.
“Goldwaki won four straight races in France for Andre Fabre and wants to go long,” said McAnally of the 4-year-old German-bred colt, who won the Group III Prix du Lys and finished fourth in the Group I Grand Prix de Paris.
McAnally said he bought the colt for Richard Duchossois on a visit to France in October, the same time that he bought the filly Rosehill Dew for his wife, Deborah.
Rosehill Dew, an Irish-bred daughter of Danehill who is now 3, worked five furlongs in 1:02.60 on the turf. “She made her first start over here running 6 ½ (finishing fourth on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on April 15),” said McAnally. “She wants to go a mile.
“She finished second at a mile last year in France (in the Prix Esmeralda) behind Golden Lilac, who just won the French Guineas,” said
McAnally also worked Beverly D. Stakes winner Éclair de Lune seven furlongs on turf in 1:27.40 for the Grade I Gamely Stakes here May 30 and All Star Heart six furlongs on grass in 1:15.
“All Star Heart was making a big move on the turf at Santa Anita when she slipped and fell (at the top of the stretch February 3),” said McAnally of the 4-year-old filly who seems fully recovered.
VALENZUELA SEEKS RECORD SIXTH RAILBIRD
Jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who has won the Railbird Stakes here a record five times, seeks to lift that mark to six Saturday when he rides Big Tiz in the Grade III $100,000 test for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs.
Big Tiz is trained by Mark Glatt and co-owned by Allen and Susan Branch, the same connections for whom Valenzuela won the 2004 Railbird aboard Elusive Diva.
Valenzuela also won the race with Melair in 1986, Sportfull Snob in 1994, September Secret in 2002 and Short Route in 2005.
Valenzuela is also approaching the 100-stake mark at Hollywood Park. The 48-year-old veteran has won 98 added-money races here, 10th on the list. Laffit Pincay, Jr., leads with 288 and is followed by Chris McCarron, Bill Shoemaker, Eddie Delahoussaye, Alex Solis, Gary Stevens, Corey Nakatani, Kent Desormeaux and Victor Espinoza.
Big Tiz, runner-up in the Hollywood Starlet in December, seeks her first stakes win.
LITT HAPPY TO RETURN TO WINNER’S CIRCLE
Trainer Joshua Litt savored his first victory in more than four years when he sent out Winter Blossom to a popular victory in a $30,000 maiden claiming race for fillies and mares at seven furlongs Sunday.
“I went into the horse transportation business in April of 2007 and got my trainer’s license back in January,” said Litt Thursday. “A partner and I bought out Cargill and renamed it Morningstar.”
Litt, 41, trained for nine years before making the career change and will try to do balance both now. “I had two 2-year-olds come in today and have six now and can’t afford another trainer,” explained Litt.
Winter Blossom, a California-bred 3-year-old filly that Litt purchased for $6,000 at the Barretts May 2010 sale, won at second asking for Litt’s J B K Stable. “My grandfather’s initials,” explained Litt of his stable name.
Winter Blossom was Litt’s seventh starter this year since his return.
His current stable includes Lucky Primo, who won the 2008 California Cup Juvenile for Marty Jones. “He’s had his problems,” said Litt of the injury-plagued horse.
FINISH LINES—Hollywood Starlet and Santa Anita Oaks winner Turbulent Descent worked five furlongs in a bullet 58 seconds for trainer Mike Puype in preparation for the Grade I Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park on June 11…Proudinsky drilled five furlongs on grass in 59.60 for trainer Humberto Ascanio, who said he is pointing the veteran to the Shoemaker Mile on July 2…U R All That I Am seeks to become the first repeat winner in the $70,000-added Fran’s Valentine Stakes for California-bred fillies and mares at one mile on turf Sunday…Happy birthday wishes to trainer Howie Zucker, 63 Friday.
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