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Fillies placed 3,000 miles apart
INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Trainer John Shirreffs has a filly for each of the major dirt stakes for females at Belmont Park and Hollywood Park this month.
Shirreffs plans to run Hollywood Story in Saturday's $200,000 Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood Park, but will hold Tarlow out of that race in favor of the $300,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park on June 18.
Not only will the two major stakes winners not have to face each other, but Shirreffs can keep different owners happy.
"They know the situation," he said of his clients. "I told them I was trying to keep them separate."
Both Hollywood Story and Tarlow possess the sort of form that can lead to wins.
Hollywood Story is coming off a troubled victory in the Grade 3 Hawthorne Handicap here at 1 1/16 miles on May 7, the same day that Shirreffs won the Kentucky Derby with Giacomo.
Going into the first turn of the Hawthorne, Hollywood Story clipped heels with a rival and nearly fell. After trailing by as many as 10 lengths, she swept past five rivals on the final turn and won by 2 1/2 lengths.
"It was an unbelievable situation," Shirreffs said. "She clipped heels, stumbled, got up, and went on."
Owned by George Krikorian, Hollywood Story has won 3 of 4 starts at Hollywood Park, and is unbeaten in three starts on the main track here.
"Hollywood Story loves Hollywood Park," Shirreffs said. "This is her track."
Tarlow has not started since winning the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap at Santa Anita on March 12. Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, who own Giacomo, Tarlow won the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes for 4-year-old fillies on Feb. 12.
With the sprint stakes winner Alphabet Kisses likely for the Milady, Shirreffs is even less intent on trying Tarlow in that race. Tarlow typically races near the front.
"That wouldn't bode well for Tarlow," he said. "They would go head and head."
The Milady is likely to have a field of six. Other probable starters include Andujar, House of Fortune, Siphon Honey, and Star Parade, the defending champion.
Honeymoon should draw a crowd
The importance of Saturday's $175,000 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap has grown in the last three years. What was once an inconsequential turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies has become an important step to the $750,000 American Oaks at 1 1/4 miles on turf on July 3.
The American Oaks and the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 9 are the richest races at Hollywood Park.
The American Oaks is an invitational, and a win or a placing is vital for the participants in the Honeymoon Handicap to attract a berth to the American Oaks, which draws runners from Japan, Europe, and throughout the United States. The field is determined by Hollywood Park racing officials.
As a result, the Honeymoon is likely to have a full field. The probable starters are Berbatim, Isla Cozzene, Kick the Can, Louvain, Royal Copenhagen, Silver Wand, Singhalese, Thatswhatimean, Three Degrees, Tivadare, and Unusual Spring,
Of those, Berbatim is essentially invited to the American Oaks, on the basis of her win in the Providencia Stakes at Santa Anita in April.
"We still need to do well," trainer Richard Mandella said. Berbatim is the 119-pound topweight for the Honeymoon.
Virden, who won the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes at a mile on turf on May 8, may run. She worked five furlongs in 1:02.80 on Monday, but trainer Dan McFarlane said he wanted to discuss the race with owner Dennis Weir before making a decision.
Virden has never run the Honeymoon distance of 1 1/8 miles on turf.
"It depends on how she comes out of the work," he said. "We need to teach her how to relax."
Baedeker optimistic about handle
After a strong start to the spring-summer meeting, ontrack handle was down 3.5 percent compared with this point at the 2004 meet through Sunday, but track president Rick Baedeker said he is not discouraged by the figures.
"We were up in handle going into [last] Wednesday," he said on Monday. "The numbers are fairly encouraging."
The reason for the decline last week was a large pick six carryover in late May 2004 that led to strong business that did not occur this year, he said.
With some of the biggest days of the meeting still on the horizon - including the American Oaks and the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 9 - there is hope that the meeting can show growth from 2004.
Baedeker said that business during Friday night racing has been strong, but that the absence of a Triple Crown possibility is likely to lead to weak business on Belmont Stakes Day, June 11.
Baedeker said the meet got off to a good start because of a three-day gap between the end of Santa Anita and opening day and a few pick six carryovers in late April and early May.
Conversely, business figures on the Kentucky Derby and Preakness programs fell below expectations.
Purse levels have been a concern in recent seasons at Hollywood Park, but Baedeker said that is not the case this year.
"We're in much better shape than last year," he said.
La Croix mulling options for 'Corazon'
Corazondelcampeon's debut win in Sunday's first race has left trainer David La Croix and owner-breeder Scott Merrell expecting the colt to be a major factor in the upcoming stakes for 2-year-old males.
Corazondelcampeon had been scratched from the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes on May 22 after becoming unruly in the post parade and running off.
He was a handful in the post parade on Sunday for jockey Corey Nakatani, but did not cause the same problems.
Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, Corazondelcampeon tracked pacesetters Via Rodeo and then Swiss Arrow before quickly drawing off to win by six lengths.
The win left La Croix wondering what could have been the week before.
"I've got to think we would have won the stakes," La Croix said.
La Croix and Merrell have not finalized where Corazondelcampeon will reappear. The options at this meeting are the $75,000 Haggin Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs on June 19 and the $100,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship at six furlongs on July 16.
Until his reappearance, Corazon-delcampeon will be a handful as La Croix trains him on a day-to-day basis.
"He's a bit of a rogue," La Croix said. "He can be a difficult horse. When he worked he was all business. They don't seem like such a pain when they run like that."
* Two horses in two days had to be put down because of injuries after breaking down in a race. Monday, Alluringact was euthanized after suffering a compound fracture to his left foreleg after the finish of a starter allowance at six furlongs. Alluringact had one win in 10 starts. Sunday, All the Boys, the runner-up in the 2003 San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap, was euthanized after suffering a hind leg injury while disputing the lead in a turf race.