11/24/2009 12:00AM

Bickersons to remain in California for now

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Benoit & Associates
Bickersons rebounds from a dull Breeders' Cup race with a Moccasin win.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - After winning the Moccasin Stakes with Bickersons on Sunday at Hollywood Park, trainer Kelly Breen faced a question the Clash pondered all these years ago: Should Bickersons stay, or should she go?

She's staying. On Tuesday, Breen announced that Bickersons would stick around just a little while longer in California to compete in the Grade 1, $300,000 Hollywood Starlet Stakes for 2-year-old fillies on Dec. 20, closing day of this track's fall meeting.

"It seems like that's the next progression, rather than fly her to Florida and wait on her," Breen said Tuesday morning. "She's there and she's doing well. She liked the track. We'll try one more time."

Bickersons has been here long enough to pay state income tax. The Starlet will be her fourth start in California. After racing twice at Monmouth Park and once at Saratoga, Bickersons headed to Santa Anita and finished third in the Oak Leaf Stakes before a dull 10th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

But she bounced back with an authoritative victory in the seven-furlong Moccasin

"Maybe it helped changing tracks," Breen said immediately after Sunday's race. "It was a little bit of a closer's track at Santa Anita, and it's a little more speed-biased here. There was really no excuse why she ran so badly. All I can say is that she didn't fire."

Had she not run well on Sunday, Bickersons would have been on a flight Tuesday back to the East Coast, with the six-furlong Old Hat at Gulfstream Park her likely next start, Breen said. Instead, Bickersons will get another chance to go for a Grade 1 victory. She has finished third in two Grade 1 races, the Spinaway and the Oak Leaf.

Breen has left assistant Kevin L'Heureux in California with Bickersons. Breen was here for the Moccasin without an entourage - owners George and Lori Hall were not in attendance - but Breen will have a larger group next month, including his wife, Melissa, who celebrates her birthday on Dec. 20.

Futurity possible for American Lion

The Grade 1, $750,000 CashCall Futurity for 2-year-olds on Dec. 19 is under consideration for the highly touted American Lion, who made a successful jump from the maiden ranks to stakes competition with a half-length victory in the Grade 3, $100,000 Hollywood Prevue Stakes on Saturday.

"I would say right now the Futurity is possible," trainer Eoin Harty said Tuesday via e-mail from Ireland, where he is visiting his parents.

American Lion, the odds-on favorite, sat in third place during the early going. Julien Leparoux, who flew in for the mount, began asking American Lion aggressively on the turn, but it took him another furlong to find his best stride.

Once he did, American Lion shot right to the front, but he seemed to idle and go one-paced to the wire. Harty believes American Lion will do better with more distance - the Futurity, like the Starlet, is at 1 1/16 miles - and more racing.

"Around the three-eighths pole, I thought we were in trouble," Harty said right after the race. "He was under a ride."

But once American Lion got to the front, "He flicked his ears and looked at everything," Harty said.

"But there's plenty of time between now and Derby Day to get that ironed out, if we're lucky enough to get there."

"This was a good learning experience for him," Leparoux said.

American Lion, a colt by Tiznow, is owned by the WinStar Farm of Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt, which bred American Lion in partnership. Harty said that American Lion is quite different from Colonel John, another WinStar-owned son of Tiznow, who was recently retired to stud.

"Colonel John gave everything he can from Day 1," Harty said. "He was very focused."

Lava Man likely for Native Diver

Lava Man continued his improbable comeback with a sharp six-furlong workout on Saturday morning in 1:12.20 that was the best of the day at the distance. His trainer, Doug O'Neill, said the Grade 3, $100,000 Native Diver Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on Dec. 12 is the likely comeback spot for three-time winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup, who has been sidelined for more than one year.

"He worked great, and he looked great the morning after the work," O'Neill said.

Joel Rosario, Hollywood Park's leading rider, was aboard for the work.

Koriner to send Sky Victor longer

Sky Victor won his second straight turf sprint on Sunday, but he will be asked to stretch out around two turns for his next start, according to his trainer, Brian Koriner.

"It's time to route him," Koriner said. "He acts like he'll settle. He's not a runaway speed horse."

On Sunday, in a first-level allowance, Sky Victor sat in third place early before rallying to catch old pro Trail Mix in the six-furlong grass race.

Zenyatta DVD, poster giveaway

Zenyatta, the unbeaten winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic, will be paraded between races on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a DVD of Zenyatta, produced by TVG, which includes all 14 of her races, plus interviews.

In addition, a poster will be given away that includes past performances of Zenyatta's career. Both items are free, but are for ontrack patrons only.

* The Oak Tree Racing Association and Santa Anita announced on Tuesday that the Grade 1 Lady's Secret Stakes, won by Zenyatta the last two years, will be renamed in honor of Zenyatta, beginning in 2010.