06/06/2012 3:38PM

Hollywood Park: Juniper Pass to be tested in Whittingham

Benoit & Associates
Juniper Pass, with Rafael Bejarano riding, wins the San Juan Capistrano.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Juniper Pass, the winner of the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita in April 2011, is part of an expected field of six for Saturday’s $250,000 Charles Whittingham Handicap.

The Grade 1 Whittingham over 1 1/4 miles on turf will be a test for Juniper Pass, who was fourth in an allowance race on May 19, his first start of 2012. Last summer, Juniper Pass was sidelined with a knee injury after a fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap at Arlington Park.

For the Whittingham, trainer Ray Bell is concerned about the distance, shorter than Juniper Pass would prefer, and the competition. The race is led by Acclamation, the Eclipse Award winner as the outstanding older male of 2011.

“It will be extremely difficult to beat what appear to be Grade 1-like horses going 1 1/4 miles,” Bell said. “It’s certainly would be better if it was a mile and a half. We’ll take advantage of this race. Who knows how things will develop?”