06/30/2012 1:32PM

Hollywood Park: Empire Way aims to end losing streak in Swaps Stakes

Shigeki Kikkawa
Empire Way will stretch out to 1 1/8 miles in the $150,000 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Empire Way has always had a tough act to follow with the success of stablemate Creative Cause, a three-time stakes winner who was third in the Preakness Stakes in May.

Empire Way has yet to win a stakes, but was second to Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner I’ll Have Another in the Grade 2 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita back in February. That race was the last time that Empire Way finished in the top three. In three subsequent races, he has finished ninth, fourth, and ninth.

Empire Way will try to end the losing streak in Wednesday’s $150,000 Swaps Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park. On Saturday, in his final major exercise before the Grade 2 Swaps, Empire Way worked five furlongs in 1:02.80 at Hollywood Park.

Trainer Mike Harrington said the workout began with a gallop.

“I gallop him long and then worked him,” he said. “He’s not that much of a work horse on his own.”

Owned by Heinz Steinmann, Empire Way did not start in June. A half-brother to 2011 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner Royal Delta, Empire Way was last of nine in an allowance race on turf against older horses May 26, a loss that Harrington quickly dismissed.

“He was coughing the day after the race, and I threw the race out,” he said. “I thought he’d like the turf, but I don’t think he liked the turf as much as I thought he would.”

In the Swaps, over 1 1/8 miles, Empire Way will start in the longest race of his career. He faces a solid field that includes the stakes winners Liaison, Nonios, and Rousing Sermon. Nonios and Liaison were first and second in the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap on June 3.

Other candidates are Blueskiesnrainbow, Called to Serve, and Holy Candy in an expected field of seven.

Creative Cause has been in light training since the Preakness Stakes on May 19, but that will change in coming days.

“I’ll pick up his training a little next week,” Harrington said Saturday. “He’s been on R and R.”

Harrington said he does not have a comeback race in mind for Creative Cause, who also is owned by Steinmann.

Dinner-dance to benefit Berrio

Hollywood Park is hosting a dinner-dance in its Turf Club on July 8 to benefit jockey Omar Berrio, who suffered his second stroke within 16 months in May.

Berrio, 43, has ridden in Southern California for more than 20 years. A native of Panama, he won once in 14 mounts earlier this year before the stroke.

The benefit will begin after the last race. Tickets are $100 and include a buffet dinner. The event is being hosted by the racetrack, local jockeys, and the Southern California racetrack chaplaincy. For further information, contact Hollywood Park’s group events department at (310) 419-1529.

Hernandez gets first Hollywood win

Jockey Juan Hernandez, 20, won for the first time at Hollywood Park, taking Friday’s third race aboard Colledimezzo. Hernandez, a native of Veracruz, Mexico, began riding in Southern California last week, having finished fourth in the standings at the Golden Gate Fields meeting that ended June 17.

Colledimezzo gave trainer Armando Cardenas his first career win.