06/06/2005 11:00PM

Bashert's 98 Beyer elicits offers

Benoit & Associates
Megahertz will carry 116 pounds when she faces males in Saturday's Charles Whittingham Handicap.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The colt Bashert delivered the most impressive performance of the season by a 2-year-old maiden last Sunday at Hollywood Park, and people are taking notice. Making his second career start, Bashert won a 5 1/2-furlong race by five lengths, geared down, in a quick 1:03.49. The time earned a whopping 98 Beyer Speed Figure.

"Ninety-eight? No wonder the phone's ringing off the hook," owner-trainer Bill Currin said Tuesday. "I thought he would win, but I didn't think he would win as easy as he did."

Currin and longtime partner Al Eisman own Bashert, a son of Tiger Ridge; Currin said since the race they have fielded 15 inquiries from prospective buyers. A sale is unlikely.

"What am I going to do with the money other than pay taxes?" Currin said.

Bashert was purchased for $110,000 as a fall Keeneland yearling, and was making his second career start Sunday under Rene Douglas. Bashert will aim for the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship on July 16.

Currin said Bashert is Yiddish for "meant to be," and noted that the correct pronunciation is with the accent on the second syllable. In the Juvenile, Bashert will face Corazondelcampeon, who won his maiden race with an 85 Beyer.

Two commit to Gold Cup

The absence of Rock Hard Ten from the handicap ranks is leading to bold strategy by connections of two Grade 2 winners. Choctaw Nation and Supah Blitz will try to take advantage of a shallow division and aim for the Grade 1, $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 9.

It is an ambitious spot for both 5-year-olds. Choctaw Nation will be making his first start since a third-place finish March 26 in the Dubai World Cup, and trainer Jeff Mullins and owner Robert Bone figure now is a good time to swing for the fences.

"With Rock Hard Ten on the shelf, who's he going to run against?" Mullins said.

The Gold Cup's 1 1/4-mile trip seems a tough distance for a comeback, but Mullins noted Choctaw Nation's deep-closing style: "He only runs a quarter-mile anyway."

Choctaw Nation has won 5 of 8, and earned $910,800, most of it since he was claimed for $40,000 from his debut. Mullins said Choctaw Nation recovered well from the Dubai trip.

"He's come back really good," he said, "probably better than any I've taken over there."

Supah Blitz has been foiled twice at 1 1/4 miles, but will try it again next month. Supah Blitz won the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap in his most recent start, and trainer Doug O'Neill said Tuesday that the Gold Cup is the target.

"It won't be easy, but there's no Rock Hard Ten," O'Neill said.

In previous starts at 1 1/4 miles, Supah Blitz finished last at odds of 41-1 in the Santa Anita Handicap in March, and was 13th of 16 in the 2003 Kentucky Derby, won by Funny Cide.

O'Neill said the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap on July 3 also was an option for Supah Blitz, but he may already have a starter in that seven-furlong race. Perfect Moon, fourth as the odds-on favorite in a two-turn allowance May 14, will cut back to 7 1/2 furlongs on Saturday for the $75,000 Ack Ack Handicap.

Mighty Beau will run twice in England

California-based turf sprinter Mighty Beau, trained by Mullins, was scheduled to leave early Wednesday morning for England, where he will run twice at York in a matter of only a few days. Mighty Beau will run five furlongs June 14 in the King's Stand Stakes, and six furlongs June 18 in the Golden Jubilee Stakes. Both races are part of the Royal Ascot meeting, which will be held this year at York.

David Nuesch will ride the 6-year-old Mighty Beau, who has won 9 of 37 starts. In his last start May 6 at Churchill Downs, Mighty Beau rolled to a convincing 2 3/4-quarter-length win in the Grade 3 Turf Sprint.

Castledale will rest till Atto Mile

Castledale, winner of the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile on May 30, will aim next for the Atto Mile on Sept. 18 at Woodbine, according to Mullins.

"He was pretty tired after [the Shoemaker], and he likes to run fresh," Mullins said.

The 4-year-old Castledale is a rarity - a Grade 1 winner on dirt (Santa Anita Derby) and turf. Though his value as a future stallion is estimated at seven figures, Castledale was not insured when he won the Shoemaker Mile.

The Shoemaker was run the day after the Mullins-trained All the Boys broke down on the Hollywood turf course.

"If I would have known [Castledale] was not insured, I would not have run him," Mullins said.

Tarlow probable for Fleur de Lis

The top older filly of the Santa Anita winter meet is ready for a comeback. The question is, where? Tarlow won back-to-back graded stakes in the winter, including the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap in her last start on March 12, and trainer John Shirreffs is aiming her for a June 18 comeback in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs or the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park. The purse for both races is $300,000.

Tuesday, Shirreffs appeared to be leaning toward Churchill Downs.

"Churchill is easier to ship in to; New York is another five hours down the road," he said.

Shirreffs, and Tarlow's owners, Jerry and Ann Moss, will be in New York this weekend for the Belmont Stakes with Giacomo.

Hollywood Story, runner-up behind the brilliant Andujar on Saturday in the Grade 2 Milady Handicap, also has two options. She could face Andujar again July 3 in the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap, or ship to Delaware Park for the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap on July 17.

Megahertz at 116 for Whittingham

The 6-year-old mare Megahertz will carry 116 pounds when she runs against males Saturday in the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap. The 1 1/4-mile turf race will be second time in the past six months Megahertz faces open company. She finished second by head in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup in December. Megahertz was held out of the Grade 1 Gamely Handicap on May 30 when trainer Bobby Frankel was unhappy with her 124-pound weight assignment. Megahertz has won both starts this year in Grade 2 handicap races at Santa Anita - the Santa Ana and Santa Barbara.

Sweet Return was assigned high weight of 119 pounds, and will run in either the Whittingham, or the Manhattan on Saturday at Belmont Park. Other expected Whittingham starters include Stanley Park and Vangelis, 118; Red For, 117; Just Wonder, 114; and Deputy Lad, 113.