05/26/2016 2:26PM

Boozer, Songforjohnmichael now horses in Tiznow

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Benoit & Associates
Boozer's Bertrando Stakes win was his first in a dirt race.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Boozer once was a turf specialist, and Songforjohnmichael is a former claiming horse. That was then, and this is now – as in Tiznow.

Boozer, a grass horse who won a dirt stakes last out, and Songforjohnmichael, vastly improved since returning from injury, top the field of seven older horses entered in the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes, race 8 on the 11-race California Gold Rush card.

:: CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH: Buy pps, wager on Saturday's card

A one-mile dirt race for California-breds, the Tiznow mirrors the Bertrando Stakes at Los Alamitos, which Boozer won last month. If he is able to work out another clear trip, Boozer could win again. Trainer Mark Glatt will cross his fingers.

“In his two dirt races, he was in the clear, where he wasn’t getting dirt,” Glatt said. “The one thing he hasn’t done is sit behind horses and get dirt kicked in his face.”

It will be up to jockey Edwin Maldonado to somehow guide Boozer to the outside after breaking from post 2. Still, three-time stakes winner Boozer faces a formidable rival in Songforjohnmichael, who will make his first start in a stakes.

Songforjohnmichael was sidelined from the fall of 2014 until this past winter and trained super for his March 5 comeback in a seven-furlong sprint. Even though the deck was stacked against him, Songforjohnmichael won by 2 1/2 lengths at 21-1.

“It was a 12-horse field in a two-other-than with a year and a half off, drawing the 1 hole,” trainer Dan Hendricks said. “I was thinking of scratching. But he ran super and has been coming out of his skin since.”

Songforjohnmichael returned one month later in the Santana Mile and ran super again. He set or pressed the fastest six-furlong split (1:10.25) of the meet for a one-mile dirt race and tired to third. The trip was not perfect.

“It wasn’t really ideal,” said Hendricks, who has named Joe Talamo to ride. “He actually likes to stalk a little bit. He’s worked solid since, and Joe said he feels super.”

The others in the Tiznow are Howdy, potential pacesetter Avanti Bello, Indygo Holiday, Soi Phet, and Rocko’s Wheel.

KEY CONTENDERS

Boozer, by Unusual Heat

Last 3 Beyers: 93-90-95

◗ He has won seven races and $538,792 from 22 starts for owners Al and Sandee Kirkwood.

◗ Glatt considered running Boozer in the Lennyfrommalibu Stakes (race 1) on turf before choosing the Tiznow on dirt.

Songforjohnmichael, by Songandaprayer

Last 3 Beyers: 98-90-92

◗ Owner-breeder Kathleen Kennedy named Songforjohnmichael in honor of her late brother, John Michael.

◗ A 5-year-old, Songforjohnmichael was gelded prior to his third start, later overcame a serious internal-bleeding episode, and since then has won 4 of 6.

Howdy, by Sundarban

Last 3 Beyers: 89-93-87

◗ He was off from April to December last year after arthroscopic surgery to remove a small chip from an ankle. Since returning, he has two wins and two seconds.

“He’s healthy this year, and he’s running fast,” trainer Peter Eurton said.

◗ Mario Gutierrez rides Howdy.

Avanti Bello, by Include

Last 3 Beyers: 85-73-90

◗ Rafael Bejarano rides the Doug O’Neill trainee for the first time.

◗ Avanti Bello is likely to set the pace. None of the first 20 dirt routes at this meet up to 1 1/16 miles were won by the pacesetter.