05/22/2013 2:47PM

Hollywood Park: Best Present Ever at a crossroads


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Best Present Ever’s summer campaign will be dictated by the results of a turf sprint at Betfair Hollywood Park on Friday.

“If she doesn’t run well on Friday, I’ll kick her out,” trainer Eric Kruljac said.

Owned by breeders Dennis and Norine Grenier, Best Present Ever won the Campanile Stakes for California-bred 3-year-old fillies last June and was later third to the multiple stakes winner Lady of Shamrock in the Grade 1 American Oaks here last July.

The American Oaks was the first of eight consecutive losses, a streak that continues. Best Present Ever was third as the 7-10 favorite in an optional claimer for female turf sprinters here on April 25.

“She didn’t run her race last time,” Kruljac said.

Kruljac is frustrated by the losses and questions whether the 4-year-old filly needs a vacation. A disappointing performance on Friday would lead to a break, although Kruljac said he was encouraged by Best Present Ever’s recent workouts.

“She relaxed for the first time in her works, and that’s a good thing,” Kruljac said. “We might give her two or three months off and hope she comes back like she was.”

A winner of 3 of 14 starts and $246,142, Best Present Ever has the highest career earnings of the seven fillies and mares in Friday’s seventh race, over six furlongs. She should have a pace to follow with the presence of Hidinginplainsight, who won the Camilla Urso Stakes at Golden Gate Fields in March, and Nihilist, who was third in an allowance race at Santa Anita in April.

The allowance race will be the turf debut of Egg Drop, a two-time winner for trainer Mike Mitchell and Little Red Feather Racing. She was last of five in the Santa Lucia Stakes at Santa Anita on April 14.

Mitchell said he has worked with the 4-year-old Egg Drop at the gate in recent weeks to try to improve her performance at the start.

“That’s been her downfall,” he said. “We figured out what she wants to do. We let her move around and set her back. She doesn’t like it when her nose is in the front of the gate. She needs to be backed up a little bit.

That could make a difference, although Mitchell remains guarded.

“She always makes a liar out of me, so we’ll see what she does,” he said.