11/16/2011 3:11PM

Hollywood: Mr Gruff reappears in Night Mover

Benoit & Associates
Mr Gruff, with Joel Rosario up sores a repeat San Simeon victory in 2010.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – It’s not often that Mr Gruff gets to the races, but it’s often worth it. At the ripe old age of 7, he has made just 10 starts, and has raced just once in the last 17 months. Yet his aptitude in turf sprints is not nearly as spotty, and that is why, despite the inactivity, he merits a tremendous amount of respect in Friday evening’s feature race at Hollywood Park, the $60,000 Night Mover at six furlongs on turf.

The Night Mover, the seventh race on an eight-race card that begins at 7:05 p.m. Pacific time, came up incredibly tough. In addition to Mr Gruff, a two-time graded stakes winner, the multiple stakes winner Compari is returning from his own vacation, and those two must face the speedy and consistent Ain’t No Other, whose has an edge on recency.

Mr Gruff, certainly not named for his easygoing trainer, Ron Ellis, has not raced since finishing last of 16 in the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai in March, and that was his first race in 10 months. He has not won a race since April 2010. Then again, he has had only two starts since then.

“He’s doing great,” Ellis said of Mr Gruff, a gelding. “He had a couple of interruptions with the rain, but we’re glad to have him back. He let us down in Dubai. I thought he was going to run a big race, and he ran terrible.

“The only excuse I can give him is that the Europeans were complaining that the course was too hard, so they watered it, and they ended up running five furlongs in 59 seconds. He had shipped well, so that’s the only excuse I can come up with. He’s always had a bad back, so the plan was to give him some time off after Dubai.”

Mr Gruff has a strong series of works for his return. This, though, will be his first turf sprint at Hollywood Park. He has plenty of experience at Santa Anita, where he has scored all five of his wins, all on the downhill course, twice in the San Simeon Handicap.

“He could need this race,” Ellis said. “He loves that downhill course, so this should set him up for the winter meet at Santa Anita.”

Compari is also seeking his first win since April 2010, when he had a win streak that numbered six. He won a turf sprint on this course following a layoff, so history could repeat.

Ain’t No Other, third in the Morvich in his last start at Santa Anita, won a turf sprint here earlier in the year.

Al Instante has won two turf sprints, at Del Mar and Santa Anita, in his last three starts.