05/16/2012 1:53PM

Hollywood Park: Corner Office, Conundrum placed in more realistic spot

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Corner Office and Real Conundrum were fourth and fifth in the $300,000 Snow Chief Stakes for 3-year-old California-breds on April 28. The Snow Chief was run over 1 1/8 miles and is the richest race of the year for the division, which made taking a chance worthwhile.

Corner Office and Real Conundrum were beaten 4 1/4 and 8 1/4 lengths by Unusual Heatwave. The losses have postponed, at least temporarily, another start in stakes. Both Corner Office and Real Conundrum are part of a field of six in a first-level optional $25,000 claimer for California-breds over 1 1/16 miles on Friday evening at Betfair Hollywood Park.

This level of competition, and distance, on Friday is a better fit for Corner Office and Real Conundrum.

Corner Office, who was in traffic trouble briefly in the Snow Chief, is expected to go favored in the optional claimer. Trainer John Sadler said the key for a closer such as Corner Office is a rider choosing the right time to move on the leaders.

Alonso Quinonez rides Corner Office Friday, having ridden the colt on April 28.

“I thought he moved a bit soon,” Sadler said. “He’s got a rally that has to be timed right.”

Owned by breeders Pam and Marty Wygod, Corner Office made his stakes debut in the Snow Chief. He could run in another stakes at Del Mar this summer, the $200,000 Real Good Deal Stakes for California-bred 3-year-olds over seven furlongs on Aug. 3.

“We’d be happy if he’d make a good allowance horse or a Cal-bred stakes horse,” Sadler said.

Real Conundrum was third in the $200,000 Echo Eddie Stakes for California-bred 3-year-old sprinters at Santa Anita on March 31. The Snow Chief Stakes was his first start beyond 6 1/2 furlongs, a tough assignment, trainer Dan Hendricks said.

Real Conundrum was within a half-length of the lead with a sixteenth of a mile remaining, but faded late.

“I think it was asking a lot to go a mile and an eighth first time around two turns,” Hendricks said. “He tried really hard, and he gave it all he had. He didn’t have a really smooth trip. I think with a smooth trip he could have been right there.”

Owned by Judi Partridge, Real Conundrum drew the rail in Friday’s race.

The field also includes Woodman’s Luck, who has 1 win in 15 starts and was second in the 2011 Snow Chief.