07/03/2011 7:31PM

Hollywood Park: Gallant Son wins Kerlan Memorial Handcap

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Benoit & Associates
Gallant Son, under Mike Smith, wins the $81,898 Robert Kerlan Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – After running in graded stakes and chasing top turf sprinter Regally Ready earlier this year, Gallant Son faced an easier field in Sunday’s $81,898 Robert Kerlan Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park.

That did not necessarily make jockey Mike Smith’s job easier. Gallant Son, who is not fond of the whip, was vigorously hand-ridden through the stretch to win by a head over pacesetter Streakin’ Mohican. Don Tito finished third in the field of eight.

There were two Breeders’ Cup race winners in the field – Dancing in Silks, winner of the 2009 BC Sprint, finished seventh, while California Flag, winner of the 2009 BC Turf Sprint, faded to last after fighting for the lead for the first half-mile.

Smith had Gallant Son in fourth for the first half-mile, stalking Streakin’ Mohican, the 5-2 favorite who set a pace of 22.48 and 44.65 seconds. Smith guided Gallant Son wide on the turn, and the 5-year-old horse responded willingly to move within a head of the leader at the eighth pole. Gallant Son needed the rest of the stretch run to reach the front, even though Smith could only show the horse the whip.

“If I hit him, he’ll stop,” Smith said. “It’s getting by them that’s the hard part. I wanted to get the jump on them because he’ll hang, but it worked out.”

Gallant Son ($11.20) ran six furlongs in 1:08.81. Gallant Son is trained by Frank Lucarelli. By Malabar Gold, Gallant Son has won 7 of 25 starts and $380,662.

The Kerlan was Smith’s first stakes win of the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting and Gallant Son’s first win in six starts this year. He was second in the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile at Golden Gate Fields in his last start April 30 and finished behind Regally Ready in three races at Santa Anita from early February to mid-April.