05/04/2010 11:00PM

Comeback for two Grade 1 winners


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Comeback races are seldom as tough as Thursday's second race at Hollywood Park.

Two of the five starters in an optional $80,000 claimer over six furlongs - Cost of Freedom and M One Rifle - ran brilliantly in top-class sprints last year. Cost of Freedom was third, beaten a head, in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 7. M One Rifle won the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26.

M One Rifle will be favored. He is eligible for Thursday's race, which carries multiple conditions, because he has not won four races against open company.

Trained by Bruce Headley, M One Rifle has worked quickly at Santa Anita in recent weeks, including three furlongs in 34 seconds on April 28, the fastest of 28 works at the distance.

"I don't put them in unless they're ready to go," Headley said, adding that the $100,000 Los Angeles Handicap on June 5 is a goal for M One Rifle.

Cost of Freedom, who won the Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes in 2008, is eligible for Thursday's race because he has not won since the cutoff date of Oct. 1. According to trainer John Sadler, Cost of Freedom needed a break following the BC Sprint.

"He didn't look right," Sadler said. "It's taken time to get good and strong again."

Sadler cautioned that Cost of Freedom may need a few races to regain his best form. After being sidelined in the winter of 2008-09 after being placed on the veterinarian's list for unsoundness, Cost of Freedom returned to racing at Del Mar last September. He was fourth in the Pirate's Bounty Stakes and fourth in the Ancient Title last October before nearly pulling an 18-1 upset in the BC Sprint last November.

"My only hesitancy is it took him a couple of races to get good off the layoff from the previous year," Sadler said. "We still think the world of him."

Of the other three starters, Stoneside has the best recent form, having finished third in the Joe Hernandez Stakes on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on March 7. A Grade 3 winner in 2008, Stoneside is winless in his last nine starts.

Sixcess has not raced since January 2009, when he finished second in an optional claimer at Santa Anita. Papa Bear was unplaced in two starts at Santa Anita earlier this year.