06/04/2010 12:00AM

Fast work proves Scintillo fit for Whittingham


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Fast workouts are uncommon for Neil Drysdale's turf workers.

So when Scintillo zipped six furlongs in 1:12.40 at Hollywood Park on Memorial Day, the quick work had a purpose. Preparing the 5-year-old horse for Saturday's $250,000 Charles Whittingham Handicap, Drysdale wanted to see how fit Scintillo was after a confusing fourth in the Grade 2 Jim Murray Handicap in his United States debut on May 15.

Scintillo was beaten eight lengths as the favorite and was vanned off after the race as a precaution. Fortunately, inspections revealed no injuries.

"We wanted to make sure everything is a go," Drysdale said of the workout. "He was more tired than we anticipated."

Scintillo is part of a field of 12 in a competitive running of the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf. The Whittingham is the feature race on an 11-race program that includes two other stakes -- the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap and the restricted Redondo Beach Stakes. First post is 11 a.m. Pacific.

Scintillo, the winner of a Group 2 race over 1 1/2 miles on turf in France last year, is unlikely to be favored. The role is expected to go to Loup Breton, who was a game third despite traffic problems in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 1. Racing over a yielding track, Loup Breton was beaten just a neck by winner General Quarters.

Rafael Bejarano, who rode Scintillo in the Murray, rides Loup Breton; Martin Pedroza has the mount on Scintillo.

The Whittingham will be Loup Breton's first turf race in California since a stylish come-from-behind win in the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes over 1 1/4 miles at Santa Anita in January. Trained by Julio Canani, Loup Breton was 11th in the Santa Anita Handicap, his only start on the synthetic main track.

Traffic problems could again surface for Loup Breton in the Whittingham if all 12 start. Troubled trips have already cost the millionaire Battle of Hastings dearly in his last two starts. The 4-year-old Battle of Hastings was a close third in the Arcadia Handicap at Santa Anita in April when stuck in traffic in early stretch. A similar situation occurred in the final furlongs of the Woodford Reserve when he finished fourth, beaten 1 1/4 lengths.

A winner of 6 of 18 starts, Battle of Hastings is trained by Ral Ayers, who has taken over Jeff Mullins's stable while Mullins serves a suspension for a medication violation. Ayers said he thinks Battle of Hastings is capable of winning the Whittingham under jockey Tyler Baze and ending a seven-race losing streak, which includes five stakes placings.

"He's always closing at the end," Ayers said. "If we can get a little lucky, and stay out of trouble, I think we have a good shot. Tyler knows him better than anybody."

There is no doubt Acclamation will be near the front. Acclamation led throughout the Murray, holding a 10-length advantage at one point, and pulled a 14-1 upset by 7 1/2 lengths. Trained by Don Warren for breeders Bud and Judy Johnston, Acclamation has drawn the rail and will once again be ridden by Christian Santiago Reyes.

Carry Gulch, a winner of his last five starts in the U.S. and Argentina, will be close to the pace. Trained by Peter Miller, Carry Gulch is making his U.S. stakes debut in the Whittingham.