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Foreigners arrive for Oaks
INGLEWOOD, Calif. - An international cast of 14 fillies has been invited to the $750,000 American Oaks, which has been newly minted as a Grade 1 event for its third running on the turf on July 3 at Hollywood Park. The horses with the longest trips already are arriving. The outstanding Japanese filly Dance in the Mood arrived in Los Angeles on Monday after a flight from Tokyo, one day after Boulevardofdreams flew in from New Zealand.
Dance in the Mood, a daughter of Sunday Silence, represents the best of her country. She is ridden by Japan's perennial champion jockey, Yutaka Take, and is trained by Kazuo Fujisawa, who has been Japan's leading trainer 10 times. More significantly, Dance in the Mood has outstanding form. She won the first four starts of her career, including the Japanese 1000 Guineas, before finishing fourth when sent 1 1/2 miles in the Japanese Oaks. The 1 1/4 miles of the American Oaks should be more suitable.
Boulevardofdreams is not nearly as accomplished, owning a Group 2 victory in New Zealand earlier this year. But she is the first Southern Hemisphere horse to enter the American Oaks. Under the conditions of the race, Southern Hemisphere fillies born after Aug. 1, 2000, are considered 3-year-olds for this race.
The best known of the American-based runners invited to the American Oaks include Hollywood Story, House of Fortune, Lucifer's Stone, Mambo Slew, and Ticker Tape.
House of Fortune won the Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks on June 12. Trainer Ron McAnally said she is unlikely to run in the American Oaks.
"She's never run on grass, and her sire and dam didn't either," McAnally said. "She's never been a mile and a quarter. And it's a little quick coming back from the Hollywood Oaks. I'm not ruling it out, but I don't think it's the best move."
McAnally said he might wait and run House of Fortune against older fillies and mares in the Clement Hirsch Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 8.
Another top-class invitee to the American Oaks is Ask for the Moon, who won the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary in France last month and was recently acquired by trainer Laura de Seroux.
Irish trainer Dermot Weld, who won the American Oaks last year with Dimitrova, is expected to send Misty Heights for this year's race.
Dispute over Boomzeeboom mount
Hollywood Park's stewards will have to resolve a dispute over the mount on Boomzeeboom, who won Saturday's Affirmed Handicap.
Victor Espinoza rode Boomzeeboom, but it was a long, strange trip to get to that point. According to trainer Vladimir Cerin, he thought he had Tyler Baze locked up for the mount, but Baze accepted the mount on Vencer at entry time on Thursday. So, David Nuesch was named as a replacement on Boomzeeboom, but only as an alternate in case another rider came open at scratch time.
No horses were withdrawn at scratch time on Friday morning, so the program was printed with Nuesch as the rider on Boomzeeboom.
On Saturday morning, however, Capitano was scratched from the Affirmed because of a bruised hoof. Espinoza was supposed to ride him, but Cerin put him on Boomzeeboom, replacing Nuesch.
According to Derek Lawson, Nuesch's agent, his jockey should be entitled to the same share of the purse won by Espinoza, which comes to $6,612, 10 percent of the first-prize money won by Boomzeeboom.
"Cerin doesn't want to pay the double jock's mount," Lawson said. "I took off the horse because Cerin said he wanted Espinoza. I'm not going to fight that. But David was here and ready to ride, and he should be compensated.
"Vladimir made the decision to remove the rider. We didn't take off. Can you arbitrarily take riders off? Are trainers allowed to do that without compensation? Why does the little guy have to take it in the shorts? The Jockeys' Guild is behind us. Anybody can be taken off at any time if the rule's not enforced. We're doing this to protect other riders."
Roman Ruler, as advertised
Sometimes a horse really is as good as the hype. Roman Ruler, who made his debut in Saturday's sixth race, was touted as one of the best of trainer Bob Baffert's 2-year-old colts. By first-crop sire Fusaichi Pegasus, and a half-brother to the top sprinter El Corredor, Roman Ruler had worked strongly and was sent off at 4-5.
He ran like it. Roman Ruler swooped the field on the turn and drew away for a four-length victory in a swift 57.27 seconds for five furlongs, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 83.
Baffert said he was not sure where Roman Ruler would run next, but at least one trainer will be watching closely. After winning Sunday's Haggin Stakes with the unbeaten Chandtrue, trainer Bob Hess Jr. said he would run his colt wherever Roman Ruler was not.
"I want to keep an eye on Baffert's bomb," Hess said. "Probably do what he doesn't do."
Freedom Crest in for a price
It has been a long time since Freedom Crest scored a 39-1 upset against Skimming and two-time Breeders' Cup Classic winner Tiznow in the 2001 Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap. He is winless in seven starts since then, and in Wednesday's seventh race he will make his first start in more than 17 months while racing for his third trainer in his last three starts.
Most notably, though, Freedom Crest shows up for a $50,000 claiming price for his first start since Jan. 2003. The 8-year-old gelding has earned $647,010, almost all of that since being claimed by his current owners.
Freedom Crest is now trained by Chris O'Dell, who is based at Los Alamitos. Freedom Crest has been training there, but has come to Hollywood Park twice in recent weeks for workouts over this track.
"I've had him about six months," O'Dell said. "He was off a long time because he had colic surgery. I got him after that. He's going to need a race or two. He's at the point where a race is going to be worth two or three works. I expect him to be a little short. I just need to get a race into him to get him fit."
Freedom Crest won the Goodwood and the 2001 San Pasqual Handicap while he was trained by Richard Baltas. He was trained by Dagoberto Perez when he made his last start, a fifth-place finish in the 2003 San Pasqual.
Laura's Lucky Boy scaring them off
Laura's Lucky Boy, who has won three straight races, was such an overpowering winner of the Will Rogers Handicap on May 22 that few will challenge him in the Grade 3, $150,000 Cinema Handicap for 3-year-old turf horses on Saturday. No more than four rivals may face Laura's Lucky Boy, including European import Whilly. Laura's Lucky Boy worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 on Sunday.
Sunday's Grade 2, $200,000 Beverly Hills Handicap for female turf runners is expected to include recent stakes winners Moscow Burning and Noches de Rosa.
* Imperialism, idle since the Preakness Stakes, worked a half-mile in 48.60 seconds Sunday morning.