04/18/2010 11:00PM

Ellis coming into Hollywood on a roll


ARCADIA, Calif. - Trainer Ron Ellis's stable starts the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting in its best form of the year.

On Saturday at Santa Anita, Ellis won three races, including the Grade 3 San Simeon Handicap on the hillside turf course with Mr Gruff. At Hollywood Park, Mr Gruff will be pointed to the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile on turf on May 31, Ellis said.

Owned by Gary Broad, Mr Gruff has never run beyond about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf, but Ellis is not overly concerned.

"His mother won over 1 1/16 miles," he said.

Mr Gruff has won 5 of 8 starts, including 5 of 6 in turf sprints. Mr Gruff won the 2009 San Simeon but missed nearly 11 months, partially because of illness. The absence kept Mr Gruff from starting in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint here last November.

"It's too bad we weren't ready for the Breeders' Cup," Ellis said.

Ellis also won an optional claimer on the main track on Saturday with Believe in Hope, who had not started since a third in the 2008 Norfolk Stakes because of an illness, two separate incidents with popped splints, and a quarter crack.

The stable also won Saturday with Dewey's Special in an optional claimer on turf. The winner of the California Dreamin Handicap for statebreds on turf at Del Mar last summer, Dewey's Special will be considered for similar races this summer.

Smith misses two days after spill

Jockey Mike Smith took off his mounts Saturday and Sunday because of soreness after being unseated during a turf race Friday. Smith, 44, said he plans to resume riding Wednesday at Hollywood Park.

"I'm just body sore," he said Sunday afternoon. "It's hard for me to turn my head. I thought it would be best to take a rest. I don't want to hinder anyone's chances."

Smith avoided serious injury when Operetta Italiano stumbled in the first turn of a $32,000 claimer over a mile on turf. Operetta Italiano appeared to take an awkward step and stumble before Smith fell from the left side of the filly.

"She shot out to the right and left me with no horse underneath," Smith said.

Smith was on his feet quickly and was taken to first aid for observation. He said he was fortunate there were no trailing horses behind Operetta Italiano.

"Luckily, I didn't get hit," he said. "I'm getting older. The next day I couldn't move. Today, I'm moving better. I don't need to be on a horse's back."

Solis moving his tack to Kentucky

Jockey Alex Solis is starting over in Kentucky this week.

Solis relocated to Keeneland after Saturday's program at Santa Anita, seeking to revive his career. He will ride at Keeneland this week and at Churchill Downs when that track's spring-summer meeting begins Saturday.

Solis said the move is likely to be permanent and gives him a chance to try a different circuit. Solis finished the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting that ended on Sunday with 18 winners, tied for 12th.

His move to Kentucky comes after he spent 25 years in Southern California, having relocated from Florida in 1985.

"I've thought about this for a long time," he said.

Though discouraged that he has not had more winners this year, Solis said his absence from the top 10 at the Santa Anita meeting was not the main reason he is relocating.

"I feel like I'm riding good," he said. "I'm being honest with myself."

Solis, 46, has won 20 riding titles in his career, 17 in Southern California. His most recent title came at the 2002 Hollywood Park fall meeting. His biggest wins include the 1986 Preakness Stakes with Snow Chief and the 2003 Breeders' Cup Classic and 2004 Dubai World Cup on Pleasantly Perfect.

Mulhall sends division to Penn National

Kristin Mulhall has split her stable between Southern California and Pennsylvania this spring, the latest trainer to be lured to the East Coast and a circuit where purses are enhanced by slot machines.

Mulhall has eight horses at Penn National and hopes to send more.

"I'll send more as I get the stalls," she said.

She said her California stable will consist mostly of statebreds.

"I'll split it in half and leave the Cal-breds here," she said. "There are so many opportunities back there."

Mulhall, 27, trained Imperialism to a third in the 2004 Kentucky Derby. Her last stakes win came in the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar with Sky Cape in 2008.