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Heavy favorites scaring 'em away
INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The likely presence of strong favorites in Saturday's $100,000 Hollywood Prevue Stakes and Sunday's $100,000 Moccasin Stakes should result in small fields for both weekend stakes races for 2-year-olds at Hollywood Park.
Lion Heart, an impressive debut winner last month at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting for trainer Patrick Biancone, heads the probable field for the Hollywood Prevue, a seven-furlong race for 2-year-olds that serves as a prep for the $200,000 Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 20.
"He's doing very good," Biancone said Tuesday from Santa Anita, where he is based. "It's time to go to the next step - a stakes race, in new surroundings."
Mike Smith is scheduled to ride Lion Heart.
The list of potential starters for the Prevue probably shrank on Tuesday morning when trainer Ruben Cardenas said that Cosmic Glitter was doubtful to run, despite a fast half-mile workout in 46 seconds only an hour earlier. The time of the work was the best of 27 at the distance at Hollywood Park, but Cosmic Glitter appeared dull while cooling out.
"We scoped him and he had a lot of mucus," Cardenas said at his barn. "He's usually jumping around. He looks down. This time of year, lots of babies get sick. We'll draw blood on him [Wednesday] and go from there."
Voladero is probable for the race, and Skipaslew is possible. Trainer Bob Baffert has nominated both Consecrate and Cooperation to the Prevue, but said Tuesday he had not decided which, if either, would run.
Baffert is a more pivotal player in the Moccasin, a seven-furlong prep for the $200,000 Hollywood Starlet on Dec. 21. He has nominated Victory U. S. A., who most recently finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, but Baffert said he will not decide on whether Victory U. S. A. will run "until after I work her Wednesday."
Several trainers said the status of their fillies would be predicated on what Baffert does with Victory U. S. A.
"I don't want to bite off more than I can chew," said Nick Hines, who trains Vino Tinto. "I'm 50-50. If Victory U. S. A. is not in the race, that would matter greatly."
Vino Tinto worked a half-mile in 48.60 seconds on Tuesday at Hollywood Park.
Doug O'Neill, the trainer of Hot Weekend, said he would likely send his filly to Golden Gate Fields for a race the following weekend. Wildwood Flower is probable for the Moccasin and Steal My Kisses is possible.
Cee's Elegance retired
The stakes-winning Cee's Elegance has been retired after finishing seventh in Saturday's California Cup Matron and will be sent to Kentucky to be bred next spring, according to Mike Cooper, the principal owner of the Cee's Stable partnership, which owns the 6-year-old mare.
"She will be missed as she is the last horse we have that was bred by Cecilia Straub-Rubens who shares her name," Cooper said. "Every time I see her I'm reminded of all those great times Cee and I had at the racetrack. But she has been in training consistently for five years and it is time to let her go on to an easier time in life."
Cee's Elegance won six times in 33 starts and earned $744,039. Her biggest victory came this summer at Hollywood Park, when she captured the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap.
Cooper said Cee's Elegance would leave California "as soon as I get a flight to Kentucky." He said she likely would be bred to Distorted Humor, the sire of Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide.
The retirement of Cee's Elegance was the second blow of a one-two punch for O'Neill, her trainer. He also trained Sky Jack, who was retired on Friday, the day before his scheduled start in the Cal Cup Classic.
"It's been a tough weekend for the grays in the O'Neill barn," he said.
Avanzado's Thanksgiving date
Cooper and O'Neill still will have action later this meet with the crack sprinter Avanzado, who will now run in the $100,000 Vernon Underwood Handicap on Nov. 27, Thanksgiving Day. Avanzado, who most recently won the Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita, had been scheduled to go to Aqueduct for the Cigar Mile.
"It's a big game of chicken," Cooper said, laughing. "Baffert is afraid of Medaglia d'Oro, so he's not going to the Clark Handicap. I'm afraid of Congaree going a mile, so we're not going to the Cigar Mile."
With Avanzado remaining here, his jockey, Tyler Baze, will not be going to Tokyo for that weekend's Japan Cup and Japan Cup Dirt, according to his agent, Ivan Puhich.
Millionaire Native Desert retires at age 10
Native Desert, the millionaire California-bred gelding, has been retired after finishing eighth in Saturday's California Cup Mile at Santa Anita, his sixth appearance in the race.
Owned by Miguel Rubio and trained by Juan Garcia, Native Desert, 10, won 21 of 74 starts and $1,828,177. He won the California Cup Mile in 1999 and 2001. His final stakes win came in the Foster City Handicap at Bay Meadows in May 2002.
Garcia had considered starting Native Desert at Hollywood Park this fall and then sending him to retirement, but cancelled those plans after the gelding ran poorly on Saturday.
"It's time," he said. "He surprised me. I thought he would run better. He had been training really good."
Garcia said Native Desert will be sent to his ranch in Tijuana, Mexico, just south of San Diego.
"I'll see him every week," he said. "I'll miss him when I walk by his stall and he's not screaming for candy."
Fulton-Becerra debut two good ones
Owner Stan Fulton and trainer Rafael Becerra unveiled a pair of promising 2-year-olds on Sunday when Rahy Dolly, a filly, and St. Averil, a colt, won their career debuts.
Rahy Dolly led throughout over six furlongs, winning by 11 lengths in 1:09.11 under Jose Valdivia Jr. She fought off an early challenge from Excessive Spice and Miss Cotton Tail to pull clear in early stretch.
By Rahy, Rahy Dolly sold for $335,000 at the 2002 Keeneland July yearling sale.
St. Averil won the sixth race by three lengths, in a field of promising colts and geldings. Ridden by Baze, St. Averil disputed the pace for the first half-mile before taking the lead. He ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.66.
By Saint Ballado, St. Averil was purchased for $500,000 at the 2002 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale.
Becerra scored his third win of the day in the ninth race when Happy and Hasty won a $12,500 claiming race.
- additional reporting by Steve Andersen