06/02/2010 11:00PM

Cost of Freedom coming off best effort


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - For a moment, forget that Cost of Freedom won the Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes in 2008, or that he finished a game third in the Breeders' Cup Sprint last November.

Focus, instead, on an optional claimer on a quiet Thursday last month -- Cost of Freedom's first start of 2010, and a race he won by 4 1/2 lengths. Trainer John Sadler considers that performance on May 6 to be the most outstanding race of Cost of Freedom's career and why the 7-year-old gelding should play a starring role in Saturday's $100,000 Los Angeles Handicap at Hollywood Park.

"His last race was his best race," Sadler said. "He won it easy, he ran fast, and he looked good doing it."

Cost of Freedom led throughout the May 6 race and was helped when favored M One Rifle, the winner of the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita last December, broke poorly and could finish only third.

"Everyone knows that M One Rifle didn't break, so we were helped a bit there," Sadler said.

M One Rifle starts in the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap and has drawn the outside post in a field of eight. Trained by Bruce Headley, M One Rifle is likely to lead or be near the front, stalking potential pacesetter My Summer Slew.

Cost of Freedom will not be far behind and may be dueling for the lead.

"He'll lay up close," Sadler said.

Last fall, Cost of Freedom led to deep stretch in the BC Sprint, losing by a head to Dancing in Silks. The optional claimer on May 6 was his comeback race.

Cost of Freedom has won 7 of 14 starts and $606,105, with much of the earnings collected since he was claimed for $50,000 in July 2008. He has the highest earnings in the Los Angeles Handicap field, which includes five horses seeking their first stakes win -- Bet on Victor, E Z's Gentleman, Hiya Silver, Jiggly, and My Summer Slew.

Stoneside, second to Cost of Freedom in the May 6 optional claimer, won the Grade 3 San Simeon Handicap on turf at Santa Anita in 2008. He is winless in three starts on Southern California's synthetic main tracks, but has finished in the top three in each race.

Czechers heads Redondo Beach

Czechers will be after the first California stakes win of her four-year career in the $60,000 Redondo Beach Stakes for fillies and mares in Saturday's fourth race.

Trained by Mark Glatt for Allen and Susan Branch, Czechers, 5, has won two stakes at Turf Paradise and was second or third in three stakes at Santa Anita earlier this year. Expected to set the pace in the Redondo Beach, which is run over a mile on turf, Czechers will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano and is part of a field of seven. The race is restricted to females that have not won a Grade 1 or Grade 2 stakes at a mile or over in 2010.

The Redondo Beach Stakes marks the stakes debut for Turning Top, who has won two two-turn grass allowance races this spring.