07/12/2012 4:02PM

Hollywood Park: Expect laid-back Amarish to be all business in Juvenile


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Based on a playful demeanor inside his stall, the friendly gelding Amarish seems an unlikely candidate as California’s hottest 2-year-old speedball.

Never mind both starts by Amarish were lopsided blowouts. Back at the barn of trainer Jeff Bonde, it is a different story. Amarish longs for attention. He stretches out his neck to have his head scratched. Stop petting, and he nips playfully, asking for more.

“He really enjoys people,” Bonde said. “He’s a very kind animal. But he’s all business on the track.”

Jekyll, meet Hyde. Amarish will transform from pet to professional Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park, where the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship has his name written all over it. And if Amarish runs as fast as his first two starts, he should be gone.

“He has always shown tons of talent, and in training, he’s lit up the track,” Bonde said. Amarish runs like he works. He crushed first out May 26 by more than seven lengths, and followed June 16 with a romp by more than four in the $100,000 Willard Proctor Stakes. His Beyer Figures – 86 and 84 – are highest of the meet by a 2-year-old.

Amarish and jockey Edwin Maldonado meet six rivals in the six-furlong, $150,000 Juvenile, a race won by the favorite seven of the last eight years. The Juvenile is positioned as race 2 on the 10-race card.

Amarish, a gelding by Scat Daddy, faces his stiffest challenge from another gelding. That is Scherer Magic, an Iowa-bred by Doneraile Court claimed by John Sadler for $50,000 from a June 14 maiden race he won by more than seven.

“I had to win a shake for him, he wasn’t a secret in the morning,” Sadler said. Scherer Magic started as the 6-5 favorite, and was claimed by owners Gary or Cecil Barber. Scherer Magic earned a 77 Beyer, and Sadler suggests imminent improvement.

“With these 2-year-olds making their second or third starts, some are going to step up, and some are going to say the same,” Sadler said.

“He’s definitely the second choice, and he’s a nice horse. Don’t be surprised if he wins it.”

Joe Talamo rides Scherer Magic, while Sadler’s second starter Carson’s Crown will try to improve off a grinding debut in which he earned a 65 Beyer winning by a half-length. “I thought he might win a little easier first time, but he still won,” Sadler said. “And, he’s quick.”

Confederate Recon, a maiden, was eliminated at the break in his most-recent start. His runner-up finish two starts back puts him in the hunt, and trainer Eric Guillot said an in-the-money finish is the objective.

Strong Wind finally broke well in his third career start, and won by more than six lengths with a 67 Beyer that makes him a fringe contender. Just Call Me All and Dirty Swagg complete the field.

Amarish, owned by Jerry Durant, drew post 6 in the seven-horse field.

Six furlongs is not likely to be an issue. “His pedigree says he should route,” Bonde said. “He’s a stretchy horse with a long stride, but I never make plans. I go race by race. Each race is a battle.”