04/21/2011 3:30PM

Hollywood Park: Liberal Arts key horse in exotic bets on Gold Rush card


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Liberal Arts may only be starting in the minor $70,000 Grey Memo Stakes on Saturday at Hollywood Park, and not in one of the four six-figure stakes on the card, but in a way is one of the most important runners on the California Gold Rush program.

Liberal Arts will be favored to win the Grey Memo Stakes, which is final leg of a 50-cent pick five and 50-cent pick four, part of three pick three bets, and the first leg of the day’s pick six. Liberal Arts could be a key selection in such bets.

Trained by John Sadler for breeders Pam and Marty Wygod, Liberal Arts seeks his second consecutive win this year in the Grey Memo, which is run over seven furlongs and restricted to California-bred or -sired runners who are eligible for a first condition allowance race.

Liberal Arts won a six-furlong maiden race on a wet-fast track at Santa Anita on March 25, overcoming a poor start to prevail by a half-length. In the Grey Memo Stakes, Liberal Arts starts from the outside in a field of 10, which Sadler says is an ideal draw for the 3-year-old colt, by Tribal Rule.

“Finally, he gets on the outside,” Sadler said. “He’s a pretty nice little horse. He’s got a good post.”

Liberal Arts was winless in his first two starts, finishing second to a stablemate, Contemplated, after being steadied twice on the turn at Del Mar last summer, his only start at 2. On March 5 at Santa Anita, Liberal Arts raced in traffic on the backstretch of a maiden race and finished ninth as the 3-2 favorite.

Considering he had a poor start in his maiden win, Sadler is eager to see what Liberal Arts can do without mishap.

“He’s had three trips when he found trouble,” he said.

Saturday’s 10-race card has four six-figure stakes and five races for maidens and first condition allowance horses. The program begins with a $40,000 claimer. There were so many entries in the $60,000 NTRA Stakes for statebred maiden colts and geldings that the race was divided, with 10 runners in the third race and nine in the seventh race. The largest field of the day is the final race, the $60,000 Alphabet Kisses Stakes for maiden fillies and mares over 6 1/2 furlongs, which drew a field of 14.

The Usual Q.T. not fully cranked for Inglewood

The five-time stakes winner The Usual Q.T. will make his first start since January in Sunday’s $100,000 Inglewood Handicap, but trainer Jim Cassidy cautioned on Thursday that The Usual Q.T. is in need of a race.

Cassidy’s pegged The Usual Q.T.’s fitness level at “about 75 percent.”

The Usual Q.T. was diagnosed with an abscess in a foot earlier this year, following a second in the Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita in January. A plan to start in the Arcadia Mile at Santa Anita on April 9 was scrapped earlier this month because The Usual Q.T. was not ready.

Cassidy said he hopes to see The Usual Q.T. run well enough in the Grade 3 Inglewood to use the race as a prep for the $150,000 American Handicap over a mile on turf on May 28.

The Inglewood will not have a large field. The candidates include Liberian Freighter and Jeranimo, who were first and third in the Arcadia Mile, as well as Honour the Deputy, Kelly Leak, and Ryehill Dreamer.

California Nectar, Enriched nursing injuries

California Nectar, the statebred champion 2-year-old filly of 2010, and the graded stakes winner Enriched, are missing the Gold Rush program due to injuries, trainer Doug O’Neill said.

California Nectar has been turned out with a foot issue. She has won 3 of 9 starts and $220,800, highlighted by a victory in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes earlier this year.

Enriched, who has won 7 of 24 starts and $535,656, recently underwent surgery to have a bone chip removed from an ankle. He has not started since finishing fifth in the Grade 2 Citation Handicap last November.

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