05/27/2011 4:58PM

Hollywood Park: Baffert plotting widespread strategy

Barbara D. Livingston
Plum Pretty, with Martin Garcia riding, wins the Kentucky Oaks.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Trainer Bob Baffert is preparing several leading horses in his stable for stakes in New York in June, but may not have a runner in the Belmont Stakes on June 11.

“I think I’ll be the undercard guy,” Baffert said.

For the June 11 program at Belmont Park, Baffert is considering May Day Rose, the winner of the Railbird Stakes at Hollywood Park on May 21 for the $300,000 Acorn Stakes for 3-year-olds fillies over a mile; Irrefutable and Ventana for the $250,000 True North Stakes over six furlongs; and Coil for the $250,000 Woody Stephens Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters.

Ventana won the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap at Pimlico on May 21. Irrefutable won allowance races and optional claimers at Santa Anita and Churchill Downs in the spring. Coil won an allowance race at Hollywood Park earlier this month.

Plum Pretty, the winner of the Kentucky Oaks on May 6, is a candidate for the $250,000 Mother Goose Stakes over 1 1/16 miles at Belmont Park on June 25, Baffert said.

The trainer has 3-year-olds preparing for stakes at Hollywood Park and Lone Star Park. Awesome Patriot, the winner of the Alydar Stakes at Hollywood Park on May 8, will be pointed for the $100,000 Affirmed Handicap on June 11, while Uncle Sam, the runner-up in the Alydar, is bound for Monday’s $200,000 Lone Star Derby on turf at Lone Star Park.

Baffert has no plans for Jaycito, the winner of the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes last year who missed the Kentucky Derby because of foot issues. “We’re still playing with him,” Baffert said. “He’s galloping.”

Callaghan shoots for the top

Simon Callaghan won a Group 2 stakes in England in 2008 with the marathoner Finalmente. He won his first American graded stakes, the Grade 3 Beverly Hills Handicap last June, with Turning Top.

Monday at Hollywood Park, Callaghan, 27, will be after the first Grade 1 win of his career when Turning Top and Dubawi Heights start in the $250,000 Gamely Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on turf for fillies and mares.

“They’re both entitled to be there,” Callaghan said. “A Grade 1 is what everyone is striving for.”

Dubawi Heights won the Grade 3 Wilshire Handicap at Hollywood Park last month, while Turning Top has had mixed form this year. She was an unlucky second to Gamely favorite Malibu Pier in the Santa Ana Stakes at Santa Anita in March, slipping on the final turn but recovering to lose by a length.

In the Grade 2 Santa Barbara Handicap at Santa Anita in April, Turning Top was only fourth of six behind Malibu Pier, a loss that puzzled Callaghan. “She seemed a little dull after the race,” he said. “We couldn’t put our finger on anything.”

Malibu Pier, trained by Carla Gaines for B. Wayne Hughes, will be after her third consecutive win, and first in a Grade 1, in the Gamely.

Trainer proves to be late-bloomer

Seven years after his first starter, trainer William Gregory, 78, won the first race of his career on Thursday with Charlie’sboywins in the third race at Hollywood Park.

Charlie’sboywins won a maiden claimer over seven furlongs, closing from last in a field of seven to win by a neck. Charlie’sboywins is one of two horses that Gregory has in training at Hollywood Park and represented the trainer’s 40th career starter. A retired small animal veterinarian, Gregory owns the gelding with his wife, Nancy.

The win came less than a year after William Gregory suffered a stroke that left him blind in one eye for four months. Today, he walks with a cane. After Thursday’s race, Gregory said, “I’m 100 percent now.”

Baze memorial set

Hollywood Park will host a memorial for jockey Michael Baze in the track’s Sunset Room following the races on June 2. The event is open to the public.

Baze died on May 10 at the age of 24, the cause of death as yet undetermined. He rode in Southern California in the last decade, and was the leading rider at the 2007 Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting at the age of 19.