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Harrington's babies look sharp
INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Trainer Mike Harrington will come out firing again this spring in 2-year-old maiden races at Hollywood Park - he entered the two morning-line favorites, Awesome Swiss and Really Uptown, in race 1 Wednesday; the filly Alpine Empire debuts in race 1 Thursday.
The babies already are declassified.
"They aren't going to be secrets when handicappers look at the Form," Harrington said. "Almost every time I worked these 2-year-olds, they black-letter worked. Unless I'm working ringers, it's safe to say they're going to be live."
No ringers, just 2-year-old runners. Harrington has 15 of them ready to start; expectations are high.
"These horses have been training very well this year," he said. "Whether they run to what they've been working, I don't know, but they've been training very well."
Most 2-year-olds trained by Harrington are sired by Swiss Yodeler; Alpine Empire is by Empire Maker. Owner Heinz Steinmann purchased Alpine Empire's dam, High Peaks, in 2006 with plans to breed her to Swiss Yodeler; she already was in foal to Empire Maker.
Because of Alpine Empire's breeding, Harrington never planned to run her 4 1/2 furlongs in April.
"You wouldn't think Empire Makers would be real precocious, and I wasn't in any hurry to start this filly," he said.
But when Alpine Empire scorched three furlongs in 33.80 seconds on March 17, Harrington knew she would be early, not late.
"She doesn't have to win," Harrington said regarding Thursday's race. "I might have to put blinkers on her. But she worked [33.80]; that tells you something."
Rafael Bejarano rides Alpine Empire. Her main rival is Walther Solis-trained Chatty Lula.
Madeo seeks better trip in Inglewood
Madeo is expected to start favored Sunday in the Grade 3 Inglewood Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile grass race he can win with a better trip than in his last race. Madeo fell far behind the pace April 4 in the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap at Santa Anita, trailed by 12 lengths, ran a final quarter in 22 and change, but missed by a length. Critics said jockey Garrett Gomez gave Madeo too much to do. The colt will be reunited Sunday with regular jockey Mike Smith.
"He's matured a little bit this year," trainer John Shirreffs said about Madeo.
His rivals will include Awesome Gem and U S Ranger.
Shirreffs said Tiago, scratched from the Santa Anita Handicap with colic, has resumed training but is a long ways from a start.
"We lost about three weeks," Shirreffs said.
Tiago had his first comeback workout Saturday, a half-mile in 50.80 seconds. The Grade 2 Californian on June 13 is a potential midsummer goal.
As for Zenyatta, her comeback options now include the Grade 2 Louisville Distaff on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs. Shirreffs also trains the Grade 1 winner Life Is Sweet, who is being pointed to the Milady at Hollywood on May 23.
"I could run both of them in the Milady," Shirreffs said.
Both are candidates for the Gradeo1 Vanity here on June 27.
Santa Teresita targets Ogden Phipps
Meanwhile, unlucky Santa Teresita will train this spring at Hollywood, but her next start will be on the road with a new rider. Santa Teresita finished second in the Gradeo3 Sixty Sails Handicap on Saturday at Hawthorne, a race she would have won by open lengths without severe traffic trouble. She missed by a head under Joe Talamo.
Trainer Eric Guillot said Santa Teresita will be freshened for a summer campaign that will begin Juneo13 in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park.
"It's $300,000, and I'll skip Life Is Sweet and Zenyatta," Guillot said.
Guillot said Santa Teresita would have a new rider for the Phipps, replacing Talamo.
Abrams loaded for Gold Rush card
Trainer Barry Abrams will be well represented Saturday with at least four starters sired by Unusual Heat on the $1.3 million California Gold Rush card - Golden Doc A sprints on the main track in the $150,000 B. Thoughtful; Bel Air Sizzle is favored in the $150,000 Fran's Valentine, a turf route; Pretty Unusual runs in the $200,000 Melair for two-turn fillies; Medzendeekron either sprints one turn in the $150,000 Tiznow or goes two turns on grass in the $150,000 TVG Khaled Stakes.
In the seven-furlong B. Thoughtful, Golden Doc A will be racing for the first time since November, and Abrams said, "It's a good spot to start with her; she'll be 85 to 90 percent ready."
Golden Doc A won the Grade 1 Las Virgenes at Santa Anita in winter 2008.
Garrett Gomez rides Golden Doc A, Medzendeekron, and Bel Air Sizzle for Abrams.
Golden Doc A's 3-year-old full sister, Mama Rosa, makes her second start Thursday in race 2, a mile turf race for maidens.
"She's developing, she's in a learning stage right now," Abrams said.
Mama Rosa raced evenly in her debut. Abrams hopes she continues her upward pattern racing two turns on turf. Another full sibling, Unusual Suspect, won his second career start for Abrams in 2006 with an identical sprint-to-turf route pattern.
Jehan deserves closer look
Trainer Mike Mitchell does not predict victory for race 6 longshot Jehan, but he suggests handicappers might want to take a second look at the filly when she sprints six furlongs on turf in a first-level allowance. Jehan chased and cracked in her California debut for Mitchell, a main-track sprint at Santa Anita. She switches surfaces Thursday with a race under her belt.
"I think the key is turf," Mitchell said, adding he was not disappointed with her speed-and-stop comeback. "I was chasing a real good filly you heard all the hype about, and the hype was true. I don't see any of those in here." Mitchell was referring to the 2-for-2 filly Witty, trained by Richard Mandella.
Jehan will be a longshot, but Mitchell's suspicious dropper Defense King will likely be favored in the sixth, a $16,000 claimer for 3-year-old sprinters. Mitchell said his third starter, Red Hot Charlotte in race 8, will scratch. Mitchell finished second to John Sadler in the trainer standings at Santa Anita.
* General admission at Hollywood Park is free Thursday; hot dogs and sodas are $1, while beers are the same price from noon to 3 p.m. It's the same on Friday night, when $1 hot dog, sodas, and beers fuel concert-goers watching KC and the Sunshine Band perform live after the final race.