06/18/2010 11:00PM

Aussie champ Scenic Blast set for U.S debut


INGLEWOOD, Calif.- The mighty Zenyatta is not the only champion in trainer John Shirreffs's barn this summer.

Scenic Blast, the reigning Australian Horse of the Year, may make his U.S. debut in the $75,000 Robert Kerlan Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park next Sunday. The Kerlan, run over six furlongs on turf, would be a considerable step down in prize money for Scenic Blast, who has won 8 of 21 starts and $1,396,843.

Last year, he won two Group 1 sprint races in Australia -- the Lightning Stakes and Newmarket Handicap -- and the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. Those races were all worth at least $300,000. But repeated incidents of bleeding from the lungs last year led to a three-month ban preventing Scenic Blast from racing in Australia, and a decision by the owners to send the gelding to California, where he can run on the anti-bleeder medication Lasix.

Scenic Blast has not started since finishing last of 14 in the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint last December. Scenic Blast joined Shirreffs's stable shortly after that race.

"We brought him in because he'd just run in Hong Kong," Shirreffs said. "We kept him here to get to know him a little bit. We wanted some personal experience."

In January, Scenic Blast, 6, was turned out for a few months at Rancho Paseana, near Del Mar, before resuming training at Hollywood Park.

Sherriffs admits that the Kerlan is not a high priority for Scenic Blast's 2010 campaign, which could include a start in the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs later this year. "I'm looking to get him a start," Shirreffs said.

Californian top three to Gold Cup

The first three finishers of the Grade 2 Californian Stakes on June 12 -- Rail Trip, Sangaree, and Slew's Tiznow -- are bound for the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 10, a race likely to have a small field.

Rail Trip has been the dominant older male in California this spring, and may scare away a few rivals. Other possible starters are Compari and Brushburn.

Compari won the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap over a mile on turf at Santa Anita in April, but was only seventh in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile on turf here on May 31, a loss that ended a six-race winning streak. Trainer Marty Jones said the $150,000 American Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf on July 4 is also a possibility.

Brushburn was third in the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf here on June 5, the same distance as the Gold Cup. The similar distances appeal to trainer Steve Knapp, more than the competition.

"It's $100,000 for second," Knapp said. "I'll nominate and take a look. I don't think I can beat Rail Trip."

Trainer Bob Baffert said earlier in the week he is unlikely to have a starter, other than Sanagree. Misremembered, the winner of the Santa Anita Handicap in March, was turned out in early spring and is unlikely to start until the fall. Richard's Kid, the winner of the San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita in February but only seventh in the Dubai World Cup, is more likely to return in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 31.

Jack's Wild breaks long losing streak

Jack's Wild ended a nine-race losing streak that lasted 34 months with a late rally in an optional claimer at Hollywood Park on Friday evening.

Ridden by Joel Rosario, Jack's Wild ($6.80) finished a half-length in front of Pop'shandsarehot in the one-mile turf race for statebreds. Jack's Wild, a winner of 5 of 39 starts and $415,850 for Ben Warren and his family and trainer Jorge Gutierrez, was entered for a $25,000 claiming price.

Prior to Friday's race, Jack's Wild, 8, had not won since the California Turf Championship at defunct Bay Meadows in September 2007, but was third and second in his last two starts, both at this level.