11/17/2008 12:00AM

Cost of Freedom must prove he's fit


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Trainer John Sadler describes Cost of Freedom as a "very unique horse, a different horse." State veterinarians have described Cost of Freedom as unsound and placed the Grade 1 winner on the state's official list of horses unable to race.

In an attempt to be removed from that list and permitted to race, Cost of Freedom will work five furlongs and be jogged in the stable area in the presence of state veterinarian Tim Connor on Wednesday. If Cost of Freedom does both satisfactorily, he will be entered that day for Saturday's $100,000 Vernon Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park.

If he fails either aspect of the physical inspection Wednesday, the 5-year-old gelding will remain sidelined. Sadler insists that Cost of Freedom is fit to run and that the horse has an odd way of traveling that could alarm a veterinarian.

"I've trained tens of thousands of horses and he's a different one," Sadler said. "He has a funny way of going, but he runs well."

This is all familiar territory for Sadler and Cost of Freedom's owners, Gary and Cecil Barber. After winning the Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes at Santa Anita in September, Cost of Freedom was a contender for the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita on Oct. 25. He was scratched the morning of the race because of unsoundness and placed on the vet's list.

Cost of Freedom later underwent a battery of tests. "Nothing showed in the tests," Sadler said.

Since then, Cost of Freedom has worked twice - a half-mile Nov. 5 and six furlongs Nov. 13.

Connor said it is rare for a horse to need a workout and inspection on a morning in which the horse is subject to be entered.

"Occasionally, it occurs," he said. "For whatever reason, the timetable is backed up. The horse has to tell you whether it's ready."

Wednesday, Sadler said he will not ask Cost of Freedom for a strenuous workout so close to a race. In addition to the physical inspection, Cost of Freedom will undergo a routine blood test, the results of which will be known later in the week.

Despite the setbacks, Sadler and the Barbers have had a remarkable run with Cost of Freedom, who was claimed for $50,000 at Del Mar in July. He won an allowance race in his first start for the Barbers and Sadler at Del Mar in August and then won the Ancient Title.

The Underwood is run at six furlongs. Aside from Cost of Freedom, the probable starters include Bob Black Jack, Johnny Eves, Master Daniel, and Noble Court.

Account-wagering dispute having impact

The draw for Wednesday's program was postponed from Sunday to Monday because of a lack of entries, which is reflected in the field sizes this meet.

Through Sunday, the 15th day of the 40-day meeting, the fall meeting has averaged 8.03 starters per race. Last year, the fall meeting averaged 8.6 starters.

Racing secretary Martin Panza said a dispute over betting revenue between the Thoroughbred Owners of California and the four national account-wagering companies authorized to do business in California (TVG, Youbet, Twinspires, and XpressBet) had left horsemen discouraged about the meeting. The dispute has left some out-of-state bettors unable to wager on Hollywood Park races through telephone and Internet sources, resulting in a drop in handle.

On the opening day of the fall meeting, Oct. 29, Hollywood Park announced a 6.25 percent purse cut because of the lack of an agreement, citing an expected drop in business.

"The situation is very damaging," Panza said of the account-wagering dispute. "With the purse cuts, there is no interest in running at this meeting. This needs to be resolved as quickly as possible. It's disappointing."

You Lift Me Up proves a profitable claim

You Lift Me Up, claimed for $32,000 at Golden Gate Fields in June, has turned out to be quite the steal.

She won her second stakes of 2008 in Saturday's $89,600 Audrey Skirball-Kenis Stakes, leaving trainer and co-owner Jerry Hollendorfer thinking of major stakes in 2009. Hollendorfer said that You Lift Me Up will be pointed for the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita on Jan. 24, with a possible start at Golden Gate Fields in December.

Owned by Hollendorfer and George Todaro, You Lift Me Up, 3, has earned $127,940 since being claimed.

In the Skirball-Kenis, a 1 1/8-mile turf race, You Lift Me Up led throughout under jockey Mike Smith, essentially stealing the race by setting a slow pace of 24.75 and 49.70 seconds for the first half-mile. She won by a head over Solar Miss, the 4-5 favorite, who was stuck in traffic in the stretch.

You Lift Me Up was timed in 1:50.09.

"She was well within herself," Smith said. "It was just a matter of if I would hold them off."

You Lift Me Up has won 5 of 16 starts and $178,778. She won the Last Dance Stakes at the Bay Meadows Fair on Aug. 17, three races after she was claimed.

Even though Evita Argentina closed fast to win in Sunday's $111,100 Moccasin Stakes at seven furlongs, Sadler, her trainer, declined to commit the filly to the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Dec. 13.

Sadler said he was more inclined to keep Evita Argentina in one-turn races.

"We don't know if she has distance limitations at this point, so we wanted to drop her back around one turn," Sadler said.

Evita Argentina was beaten by division leader Stardom Bound in her two starts before the Moccasin, finishing fourth in the Del Mar Debutante and ninth in the BC Juvenile Fillies. The BC Juvenile Fillies was Evita Argentina's only start around two turns.

Sadler's hesitancy to commit Evita Argentina to the Starlet is based partly on the stable's depth in the division. He has Alpha Kitten, the runner-up in the Anoakia Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 19, as a candidate for the Starlet.