Victor’s Cry, who won the Shoemaker Mile as a 21-1 longshot last year, will earn more respect at the windows when he defends his title in the $250,000 Grade I turf test at Hollywood Park Saturday. But the 6-year-old ridgling will still have his work cut out for him.
“It’s a big ask to bring a horse back from Dubai,” said Alex Elliott, assistant to trainer Eoin Harty, Sunday of Victor’s Cry, who finished fifth in his last start in the Dubai Duty Free Stakes on March 26.
“He runs well fresh and we’ll keep our fingers crossed,” said Elliott. “His last work is tomorrow. He’s been working fine.”
Elliott thought Victor’s Cry could have finished closer in Dubai in a field of 16. “He went outside turning into the stretch and the winner went inside, and he got beat four lengths,” said Elliott.
Victor’s Cry, owned by Equilete Stable, has shown a fondness for the Hollywood Park turf. He came back to win the Citation Handicap on it last fall and has posted three wins in five starts on it.
Victor’s Cry, a Virginia-bred son of Street Cry, seeks to become the first winner to repeat in the Shoemaker since Silic in 1999 and 2000.
“Courageous Cat will be tough to beat,” said Elliott of the respected invader scheduled to ship here Wednesday from New York. The 5-year-old horse comes off a facile score in the Grade III Poker Stakes at one mile on the Belmont turf June 10 for trainer Bill Mott. Courageous Cat is a royally-bred horse by Storm Cat out of Grade I stakes winner Tranquility Lake, owned and bred by Marty and Pam Wygod.
A field of seven is probable for the Shoemaker: Victor’s Cry (Victor Espinoza), Courageous Cat (Patrick Valenzuela), Caracortado (Joe Talamo), Liberian Freighter (Martin Garcia), Smokey Lonesome (Rafael Bejarano), Blue Chagall (Joel Rosario) and Ashtar (Martin Pedroza).
Blue Chagall worked a bullet five furlongs in 58.80 on the main track for three-time Shoemaker-winning trainer Julio Canani. Smokey Lonesome, victorious in three of his last four starts, drilled four furlongs on turf in 48.80 for trainer Art Sherman.
Ashtar, a Group I winner in Chile, is scheduled to make his United States debut for trainer Ruben Cardenas.
AMAZOMBIE, SMILING TIGER TO VIE IN TRIPLE BEND
Amazombie and Smiling Tiger, a pair of leading sprinters still smarting from their last races, are anxious to make amends in the $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap, a Grade I test at seven furlongs on Cushion Track Saturday.
Amazombie, a 5-year-old gelding who developed into the top sprinter in Southern
California this winter for trainer and co-owner Bill Spawr, may have been best in crossing the finish line first in the Los Angeles Handicap here May 30 but was disqualified to third for bulling his way through in midstretch and bumping M One Rifle, who was elevated from third to second.
Smiling Tiger, a 4-year-old colt seeking his third straight victory in the Churchill Downs Stakes May 7, was frustrated in traffic, was steadied twice in the stretch and finished sixth, beaten by 2 ¼ lengths. The chestnut colt was unbeaten in two starts here last year, capturing the Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes and Grade I Ancient Title Stakes for trainer Jeff Bonde.
Amazombie (Mike Smith) and Smiling Tiger (Joel Rosario) are expected to be joined in the Triple Bend by Los Angeles winner Camp Victory (Joe Talamo), M One Rifle (Chantal Sutherland) and 3-year-old Bench Points (Rafael Bejarano), winner of the Barrera earlier in the meet.
Also under consideration are Color of Courage, Supreme Summit, Uh Oh Bango and one of a trio of Bob Baffert-trained nominees: El Martillo, Indian Firewater and Irrefutable.
“I’ll probably run one of them, but this is a tough race,” said Baffert, who has won the last two runnings with Zensational (2009) and E Z’s Gentleman (2010).
CELTIC PRINCESS TO RUN IN ROYAL HEROINE
Celtic Princess, a game second in the Grade I Gamely Stakes in her last start on the Hollywood Park turf May 30, will shorten one furlong in the $150,000 Royal Heroine Mile, the July 4th headliner for distaffers.
Rafael Bejarano will ride the 7-year-old Brazilian-bred mare back for trainer A C Avila in the Grade II test.
Other probable starters include Great Lady M. Stakes winner Givine, Redondo Beach Stakes winner Wild Mia and Redondo Beach runner-up Andina.
McPEEK TO SHIP PAIR FOR HOLLYWOOD STAKES
Trainer Ken McPeek is scheduled to ship two horses from Kentucky to California Sunday night for upcoming Hollywood Park stakes.
Dark Cove is a candidate for the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup July 9, and Bizzy Caroline is targeting the $250,000 American Oaks on July 16. Both are Grade I tests.
Dark Cove, a 4-year-old colt, finished third in his last start in the Colonial Turf Cup in Virginia June 18. He is unbeaten over synthetic, having won twice on the Keeneland Polytrack.
Bizzy Caroline, a 3-year-old filly, comes off a 2 ¼-length victory in the Grade III Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs June 18, her third win in five outings on turf.
“DUDES” WORK FOR HOLLYWOOD GOLD CUP
“Both ‘Dudes’ are going to run in the Gold Cup,” said trainer Bob Baffert Sunday.
The Hall of Fame trainer gave the green light to First Dude and Game On Dude after each worked six furlongs on the main track to his satisfaction.
Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On Dude was clocked in a bullet 1:11.40, while First Dude was clocked in 1:12.60.
APPRENTICE FLORES MAKES DEBUT FRIDAY
Eswan Flores, an 18-year-old apprentice jockey, will make his thoroughbred debut at Hollywood Park Friday night, according to agent Derek Lawson.
“He’s been riding quarter horses at Los Alamitos and will ride his first horse here for (trainer) Vladimir Cerin,” said Lawson.
Lawson said that Flores is a senior at Ledesma High School in El Monte and that his father, Carlos Flores, works as a groom for trainer Victor Garcia.
PALMER, BAEDEKER LIVE THEIR DREAMS
Don Palmer and Bob Baedeker watched Salty Sarah, a 5-year-old mare owned by their Live Your Dream Racing Stable, work five furlongs in 59.40 seconds Sunday for trainer Bob Baffert.
Palmer is the founder of and Baedeker the consultant for the syndicate, which began with Baffert claiming Salty Sarah for $12,500 last year.
“She has won three of four races since the claim and earned about $92,000,” said Baedeker of their auspicious debut.
Palmer, 77, has fond memories of Hollywood Park. He said he first attended races here in 1953 and remembered seeing such stars as George Raft, Betty Grable and Harry James.
In 1975, he became an owner and won his first race here with Front Cover, ridden by Fernando Toro for trainer Tom Blincoe.
“Life is short…It’s past time to begin to ‘Live Your Dream,’”
said Palmer of his latest endeavor.
FINISH LINES—Don Tito worked five furlongs on the main track in 1:01 for the $70,000-added Robert K. Kerlan Memorial Handicap at six furlongs on turf July 3. Joel Rosario will ride the 4-year-old colt for John Sadler in a lineup also expected to include Quick Enough * and Gallant Son *(Mike Smith). Unzip Me, also nominated, worked five furlongs on turf in 1:02.40. Trainer Marty Jones said he was not sure if the 5-year-old mare would start in the Kerlan, a race in which she was third in 2010… Rafael Bejarano returns Sunday after winning the Iowa Derby Saturday night at Prairie Meadows with Prayer for Relief for trainer Bob Baffert. Bejarano also won the Iowa Distaff the night before aboard the Baffert-trained Freedom Star …Condolences to trainer Bob Baffert, whose mother, Ellie, died Thursday after an extended illness…Trainer Mark Glatt said that Big Tiz, scratched from the Hollywood Oaks Saturday, will need time off for an “undisclosed injury…The single winning ticket on Saturday’s Pick 6 at Hollywood Park – worth $96,391 – was purchased through TVG.
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