04/25/2007 12:00AM

Greg's Gold to face Cal-breds in Tiznow


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Greg's Gold, the runner-up in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita earlier this month, will make a surprise appearance in Sunday's $150,000 Tiznow Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Trainer David Hofmans said Wednesday that he is taking advantage of Greg's Gold's status as a California-bred to start him in the Tiznow Stakes, which is part of the California Gold Rush program, a 10-race card for statebreds.

Hofmans considered starting Greg's Gold in the $100,000 Los Angeles Handicap on May 12, but opted for Sunday's race because it is more lucrative. The long-term goal is the $300,000 Triple Bend Handicap over seven furlongs here on July 7.

"This is against California-breds and he came out of his last race great," Hofmans said. "Plus, Smokey Stover's not in there."

Greg's Gold finished second to Smokey Stover, a Florida-bred, in the Potrero Grande, losing by 4 1/2 lengths. Hofmans was left wondering if Greg's Gold could have finished closer to Smokey Stover had he not been stuck on the inside on the turn under jockey Richard Migliore at a time when Smokey Stover was pulling clear.

"Migliore was going to the outside when the other horse was going forward," Hofmans said.

The Tiznow Stakes also will not include Bordonaro, a top California-bred who won the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn Park earlier this month. Bordonaro is a candidate for the Los Angeles Handicap.

Greg's Gold was third in the Tiznow Stakes in 2005, his best season. Later that year, Greg's Gold won the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar but suffered a tendon injury that left him sidelined until earlier this year.

Greg's Gold won his comeback race, a six-furlong allowance in February. The Tiznow Stakes is run over 7 1/2 furlongs, and Hofmans feels the distance is within Greg's Gold's range since he has proven to be a late-running sprinter.

"This won't affect the Triple Bend, that's our goal," Hofmans said.

The richest race on Gold Rush Day is the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes for 3-year-olds over 1 1/8 miles. Freesgood and Pirates Deputy, the first two finishers in the California Cup Juvenile last October, are the leading contenders.

Since the California Cup, Pirates Deputy has won the California Breeders' Champion Stakes in December at Santa Anita. Freesgood has made one start this year, finishing second in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows.

Red Fort ready for 2007 debut

In the past two years, Red Fort ran well enough in the Grade 3 Inglewood Handicap to suggest that he would be a turf horse to follow through the year. In both seasons, he had brief campaigns.

This year, trainer Neil Drysdale says Red Fort has thrived on Hollywood Park's synthetic track and is hopeful that the gelding will have a longer season.

Red Fort makes his first start of 2007 in Saturday's $100,000 Inglewood Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on turf. The race has drawn eight entrants. Red Fort shares starting high weight of 117 pounds with the 2006 graded stakes winners Get Funky and Willow O Wisp.

"He's come back better than ever," Drysdale said of Red Fort. "I'm hopeful with the way he's training."

Red Fort, 7, has not started since finishing fourth as the favorite in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap at Arlington Park last July. He missed the rest of the season because of an ankle injury that required surgery, Drysdale said.

Although he is winless in five stakes in this country, Red Fort has proven to be effective at the Grade 1 level. In 2005, he finished second by a nose in the Inglewood and second by a head in the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap. Last year, Red Fort was fourth in the Inglewood, beaten by 1 1/2 lengths, and finished third in the Whittingham.

Drysdale declined to predict whether Red Fort can return to that level. "Once we've started him, we can assess," he said.

Red Fort drew post 7 in the Inglewood. Aside from the highweights, the other entrants are After Market, Courtly Jazz, Railroard, Sound Breeze, and Stormin Away.

Balance pointed to Milady BC

Balance, the leading older female in California this year, will make her next start in the $175,000 Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap here on June 3, and will not travel to Churchill Downs for the Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap next week, said her trainer, David Hofmans.

Unraced since winning the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap on March 10, Balance was considered for either race as recently as last month, but Hofmans said he would prefer to race her at Hollywood Park, where she is based.

Wednesday, Balance worked five furlongs in 1:00.60, with a final furlong in 11.60 seconds, Hofmans said.

Owned by John and Jerry Amerman, Balance has the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Monmouth Park in October as a long-term goal, Hofmans said. The Amermans and Hofmans are hoping for a repeat of their Breeders' Cup success in 2003 when they won the Distaff with Adoration.

Hofmans said Balance's campaign was designed to keep her from becoming too tired before the Distaff. A 4-year-old filly, Balance will race more extensively in the summer and fall, he said.

"After the Milady, it's the pedal to the metal," he said.

Hofmans compared Adoration and Balance on Wednesday, saying that like Adoration, Balance is becoming easier to train as she ages.

"She's so much more relaxed this year," Hofmans said. "Adoration was a little flighty at 3, but she mellowed out at 4 and 5."

Nelson to retire as clocker

Gary Nelson, the head clocker at Santa Anita this year, is retiring this summer. Nelson, 55, says he will work at Santa Anita through the Hollywood Park meeting, which ends July 15.

Nelson said Wednesday that he will not venture far from the sport after his retirement, possibly organizing horse partnerships or buying and selling horses.

"I definitely plan on staying involved" in racing, he said.

Nelson has been a clocker in Southern California since 1976.