07/02/2010 12:00AM

Gayego will return in Triple Bend


INGLEWOOD, Calif. − Gayego, a multiple stakes winner who holds the track record for 6 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park, will make his 2010 North American debut in the $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap here July 10.

Rick Mettee, the New York-based assistant to Saeed bin Suroor of Godolphin Racing, said Gayego is ready for his first start since running in March in the Middle East.

"He's done really well," Mettee said. "He's done a couple of really good pieces of work. It looks like a good spot out there [in California]."

Gayego, 6, has had mixed form in the last eight months. He won the Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes at Santa Anita last October and was fourth, beaten a neck, in the Breeders' Cup Sprint after a slow start a month later. In Dubai earlier this year, Gayego was second in a Group 3 sprint but finished eighth in the $2 million Golden Shaheen on March 27, his most recent start.

Gayego arrived at Belmont Park in the spring. He breezed five furlongs in 59.60 seconds at Belmont Park on June 19, the fastest of 26 recorded works at the distance.

Gayego is unbeaten in two starts at Hollywood Park. He zipped 6 1/2 furlongs in a record time of 1:13.37 in an optional claimer in November 2008 and was bought privately by Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Racing shortly after the race. Gayego won a maiden race at Hollywood Park as a 2-year-old in 2007 and won the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby the following April before finishing 17th in the Kentucky Derby.

"He's won both of his races over that track," Mettee said of Hollywood Park. "Sometime that means something, and sometimes it doesn't. He did run a good 6 1/2 furlongs right before Godolphin bought him."

Rail Trip heads Hollywood Gold Cup

Rafael Bejarano, the leading rider at the spring-summer meeting, is booked to ridGayego. On the same day, Bejarano has the mount on Rail Trip, who is expected to be a heavy favorite in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup.

Rail Trip has emerged as the leading older male in California this year, with wins in the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap and Californian Stakes. He is the defending champion in the Gold Cup.

The 2010 Gold Cup is expected to include Sangaree, Slew's Tiznow and Cigar Man, who were second, third, and fifth in the Californian; Awesome Gem, who won the Hawthorne Gold Cup last fall; Brushburn, who was third in the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap on turf last month; and Tap It Light, who won the Tokyo City Handicap at Santa Anita in March.

Lookin At Lucky's next race still undecided

Preakness Stakes winner Lookin At Lucky has recovered sufficiently from a recent illness and will resume galloping at Santa Anita, but his status for a major stakes at Monmouth Park or Saratoga on July 31 or Aug. 1 will not be known for a few days.

Trainer Bob Baffert said Lookin At Lucky is scheduled to breeze in coming days, which will tell him whether the colt can start in the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga on July 31 or the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug. 1.

The champion 2-year-old male of 2009, Lookin At Lucky resumed racetrack exercise Tuesday, Baffert said.

"He looks good," he said. "If I can get a breeze into him this week, I'll be back on schedule. I'll let him gallop a few more days.

"We're gradually giving him more every day."

TOC to elect new chairperson

The Thoroughbred Owners of California will have a new chairperson this summer.

In an election held to fill four seats on the board of directors, current chairperson Marsha Naify was not re-elected.

The two seats available for Southern California-based owners were won by new board member Mike Pegram, a co-owner of Lookin At Lucky, and incumbent Pablo Suarez. The two seats available to Northern California-based owners went to new board member Cal Fischer and incumbent Keith Pronske.

According to its website, the TOC mailed 8,747 ballots to people holding owner-trainer licenses and owner licenses and received back 740 ballots. Nineteen of the ballots were invalidated because they were not signed, were late, or were not filled out properly.

Pegram led all candidates with 528 votes, followed by Saurez with 404, and Naify with 400. Pronske finished fifth overall with 280, and Fischer was seventh with 194. The first two southern-based and northern-based candidates won seats on the board, joining Madeline Auerbach, Martin Bach, David Bloom, Brian Boudreau, Billy Koch, Pete Parrella, Don Valpredo, and Arnold Zetcher.

A new chairperson is expected to be elected when the board convenes at Del Mar on July 23.

Trainers Bob Baffert, Ron Ellis, and Phil Oviedo are no longer on the board because the provision allowing owner-trainers to serve has expired, the TOC said in a prepared statement.