06/03/2009 11:00PM

Gorgeous Goose drops, but race comes up tough

Benoit & Associates
Gorgeous Goose comes off a victory in the Grade 3 Wilshire at Hollywood.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - With the first goal accomplished, a victory in the Grade 3 Wilshire Handicap last month, Gorgeous Goose takes a drop in class to start in Saturday's $70,000 Redondo Beach Stakes at Hollywood Park.

She just as easily could have fit in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes last weekend, considering she is a two-time stakes winner and ran arguably the best race of her career in the Wilshire.

Trainer Mike Puype has opted for the less-prestigious race. His major long-term goal for the 4-year-old Gorgeous Goose remains the $250,000 Royal Heroine Mile on turf on July 11. The Redondo Beach is run at the same distance and is a neat five weeks after the Wilshire and before the Royal Heroine.

"I wanted this stakes to stay on track for the Royal Heroine," he said.

The Redondo Beach is not an easy race. The field of nine fillies and mares includes five other stakes winners and three that have been stakes-placed. Gorgeous Goose will get a test.

"It will be a tough race," Puype said. "Tuscan Evening, Gotta Have Her, and Gorgeous Goose - those are three good fillies."

Tuscan Evening, second in the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas last year, has won 3 of 4 starts in this country, the most recent of which was an easy win in an allowance race at 1 1/16 miles on May 10. Gotta Have Her has won her last two starts, including a nose victory in the Grade 3 Las Cienegas Handicap on Santa Anita's hillside turf course on April 12.

Gorgeous Goose ended a streak of eight losses in stakes with a win in the Wilshire. She won an allowance race at Santa Anita in March, finished fifth in the Las Cienegas, and rallied from sixth in a field of nine to win the Wilshire. The victory gives Puype confidence that the 4-year-old filly can repeat the performance.

"It's not a fluke win," he said. "Her form is good."

Ack Ack: Two return from layoffs

The Redondo Beach is the sixth race and the first of three stakes on Saturday's 10-race program. The $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap for older horses at 7 1/2 furlongs is the eighth race, preceding the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap on turf.

The Ack Ack Handicap marks the return of the stakes winners Noble Court and Sierra Sunset from layoffs. Noble Court, unraced since winning the Joe Hernandez Stakes at Santa Anita in March, is after his third stakes win. A 5-year-old, Noble Court has won half of his 10 starts, but has raced sparingly.

"It's been many different ailments," trainer John Sadler said. "He can run two or three races and something goes wrong."

The Ack Ack will be Noble Court's first start at 7 1/2 furlongs, a distance that concerns Sadler.

"It's a little tough, but it sets him up for the Triple Bend Handicap," he said. The Grade 1 Triple Bend is run on July 5.

Sierra Sunset was on the 2008 Triple Crown trail in Arkansas before being sidelined by injury shortly after winning the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. A three-times stakes winner trained by Jeff Bonde, Sierra Sunset has worked steadily at Golden Gate Fields in the last month.

Noble Court shares high weight of 120 pounds with Liberian Freighter, a 4-year-old California-bred gelding trained by Neil Drysdale. Liberian Freighter is in the best form of his career, having won two consecutive stakes for statebreds - the Sensational Star Handicap at Santa Anita on March 29 and the Tiznow Stakes on the main track here at 7 1/2 furlongs on April 25.