07/19/2013 2:58PM

Del Mar: Summer Hit must avoid joining speed battle in California Dreamin'

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Summer Hit, winning the All American Handicap at Golden Gate Fields, is among three contenders who prefer to run on or near the lead in the California Dreamin'.

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DEL MAR, Calif. – There may be too much speed in Sunday’s $150,000 California Dreamin’ Handicap at Del Mar to suit Compari, Lucky Primo, and Summer Hit.

All three are at their best when racing on or near the lead. When they meet for the first time in the California Dreamin’ for California-breds going 1 1/16 miles on turf, their similar styles could lead to a speed battle.

Summer Hit, who has won 7 of 11 starts and earned $281,835, and Compari, a winner of 8 of 19 starts and $648,386, share top weight of 123 pounds in the field of nine. Lucky Primo, who has won 6 of 17 starts and earned $461,616, carries 120 pounds.

If they run too quickly early, the improving 4-year-old Rock Me Baby, or the 7-year-old Soul Candy, who won the 2010 California Cup Classic Stakes at Hollywood Park, could be the beneficiary.

Summer Hit won the Grade 3 All American Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the synthetic main track at Golden Gate Fields on May 27, his most recent start. He was held out of graded stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park in recent weeks in favor of the California Dreamin’.

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“We’ve been thinking of this Cal-bred race,” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. “Theoretically, it should be a little easier.”

Summer Hit has led throughout in five of his wins, but also has won from a stalking position, giving Hollendorfer confidence that the 4-year-old gelding can be patient for jockey Rafael Bejarano.

“I don’t think he’s a horse that has to be on the lead,” Hollendorfer said.” I think he’s a decent horse and I’ve always thought that.”

Lucky Primo led for the first mile of the Grade 2 Charles Whittingham Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on turf at Hollywood Park on June 8 before fading to finish third behind Tale of a Champion. Trained and co-owned by Joshua Litt, Lucky Primo, 7, made his first start of 2013 in the Whittingham.

“I don’t think he wants to go that far,” Litt said. “He did what we thought he could. It seemed like it got him ready for this and makes it easier to run him in this.

“I wish there was no speed. I worry more about losing ground. Hopefully, he’ll be on the lead or right behind.”

Lucky Primo, who won the California Cup Classic Stakes at Santa Anita last fall, has had two workouts since the Whittingham.

“If you give him a little time, he runs well,” Litt said. “I don’t train him hard anymore. It works for him.”

Compari, a 7-year-old who has won five stakes, has changed as he has aged, trainer Marty Jones said.

“When he was younger, he needed to be in front,” he said. “This race did come up with a lot of pace.”