11/09/2010 1:55PM

Caracortado has tough spot for return

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Benoit & Associates
Caracortado, with Paul Atkinson up, wins the Robert B. Lewis.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Caracortado, unraced since finishing seventh in the Preakness Stakes in May, starts in an optional claimer over six furlongs on turf in Thursday’s seventh race at Hollywood Park.

It will not be an easy race for Caracortado, who races for a partnership that includes trainer Mike Machowsky. The field of 11 includes a stakes-winning stablemate in Dance With Gable; Cherokee Heaven, a stakes winner at Santa Anita in January; Stoneside, who was stakes-placed here in July; and the Brazilian stakes winner Lieve.

Caracortado has won 5 of 8 starts and $262,200, including his first five starts, a span highlighted by a win in the Grade 2 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita in February. Caracortado lost his next three starts, including a seventh in the Preakness, finishing 10 1/4 lengths behind Lookin At Lucky.

Machowsky had Caracortado aimed for the Affirmed Handicap here in June when the gelding was taken out of training.

In recent weeks, Caracortado has worked quickly, including five furlongs in 59.40 seconds on Oct. 22, the fastest of 33 works at the distance; and six furlongs in 1:11 on Oct. 29, the fastest of 14 works at the distance.

The optional claimer will be Caracortado’s first start on turf. He has drawn the rail and will be ridden for the first time by Joe Talamo.

Caracortado will be in pursuit of Amazombie, a 4-year-old gelding who won a six-furlong optional claimer here on Oct. 15, and is eligible to be claimed for $62,500. Trained by Bill Spawr, Amazombie has finished first in four of his last five starts, but was disqualified from first and placed fifth in one of those races, an optional claimer for turf sprinters at Del Mar on Aug. 6.

Machowsky also starts Dance With Gable, who won the California Sky Stakes on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita in October 2009, and two other races on the hillside sprint course there earlier this year.

Dance with Gable has not started since finishing second in an optional claimer here on May 2. A 6-year-old gelding, he was entered to be claimed for $62,500 that day, but is not in for a claiming price on Thursday.

Cherokee Heaven returns to California after three races at Woodbine during the spring and summer. Trained by Marty Jones, Cherokee Heaven won the Impressive Luck Handicap at Santa Anita in January.