05/11/2010 11:00PM

Grace Upon Grace won't have it easy


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - In sprint stakes at three tracks last spring and summer, Grace Upon Grace always looked like a contender but could never finish the job. His best result was two second-place finishes.

A tendon injury curtailed his 2-year-old campaign last September. For Grace Upon Grace's return to racing at Hollywood Park on Friday evening, trainer Walther Solis is switching surfaces. Grace Upon Grace will make his turf debut in an optional claimer for 3-year-olds over 5 1/2 furlongs. Grace Upon Grace is part of a field of eight.

"It's a little tougher race than what I thought it would come up," Solis said. "I would have liked to have given him an easier race for his comeback. He seems like the class of the field."

Grace Upon Grace won his debut at Hollywood Park in April last year. He was later second in the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes here and the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar last July. Grace Upon Grace was fourth in the C.B. Afflerbaugh Stakes at Fairplex Park last September in his most recent start.

Solis said Grace Upon Grace was sidelined by a tendon injury, which the trainer said is no longer a concern.

"He's seems to be doing great," Solis said.

Grace Upon Grace is effective from the front or as a stalker and could be part of a quick pace in Friday's seventh race. The field also includes Locksley Hall, who was second in the Harry Henson Stakes over six furlongs on turf here April 21.

Ivory Fudge is making his second start on turf. He was third in an optional claimer on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on April 15, losing by 1 1/2 lengths to Ukandoit, who returned to win an optional claimer here May 6.

Ivory Fudge is expected to show speed Friday, trainer John Sadler said.

"He ran a good race on grass," Sadler said.

Friday's seventh race is the first turf race at 5 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park since July 2006. In the second half of that year, Hollywood Park constructed a chute to accommodate six-furlong turf races. Since then, a majority of the turf sprints have been run at six furlongs.

Mullins begins serving 30-day ban

Trainer Jeff Mullins began a 30-day suspension Sunday as part of a penalty issued last month by the California Horse Racing Board after one of his starters at Del Mar in 2008 tested in excess of the permitted level of total carbon dioxide.

Mullins also was fined $2,500. His horses are now trained by his assistant Ral Ayers, who saddled a winner last Sunday when Gold Aly won an allowance race. Ayers does not have a starter on Friday evening's program.

Alphie's Bet to meet elders in Murray

Alphie's Bet, who won the $200,000 Snow Chief Stakes for 3-year-old statebreds last month, was entered in Saturday's $150,000 Jim Murray Handicap against older horses over 1 1/2 miles on turf.

Trainer Alexis Barba was undecided whether to enter the colt on Wednesday morning, while standing outside the backstretch racing office.

"I'm trying to figure out if I need a therapist before I go in there," she said. "I need a jockey."

With several prominent riders already engaged on other horses, or riding the Preakness program at Pimlico, Silvio Amador was named to ride Alphie's Bet.

Alphie's Bet is the lone 3-year-old in the Murray, a Grade 2 race that drew a field of 11. Scintillo, winner of two group stakes in England and France last year, is the 118-pound topweight. Trained by Neil Drysdale, Scintillo was 11th in the $5.4 million Japan Cup last November in his most recent start.