05/22/2013 3:58PM

Hollywood Park: Lucayan making U.S. debut in American

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The only horse in Saturday’s $150,000 American Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park to win at the highest level on turf will not be favored in the one-mile grass race.

Lucayan, who won the Group 1 French 2000 Guineas in Paris last May, makes his United States debut in the Grade 2 American Handicap for trainer Neil Drysdale.

But the role of favorite will go to Obviously, the 121-pound topweight, who won two Grade 2 races last year and was third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita last November behind Horse of the Year Wise Dan. Obviously was second in his first start of 2013, the Grade 3 San Simeon Handicap on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on April 20.

The American will be Lucayan’s first start since the colt finished last of eight in the Grade 2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein at Longchamp last October. He has been with Drysdale since last winter.

“He might need a run,” Drysdale said.

Owned by Pandora Stud, Lucayan has won 3 of 8 starts and $405,275. He was entered in an allowance race at Hollywood Park on May 2, but was scratched because of a minor setback, Drysdale said.

“He had a bit of a foot problem,” Drysdale said.

Lucayan won three of his first five career starts, but was well beaten in his final three starts in Europe. He won a minor stakes in Toulouse, France, in April 2012 before the 27-1 surprise win in the French 2000 Guineas. That was his most recent win.

Trained last year by Francois Rohaut, Lucayan was later ninth in the Group 1 St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in England. In the fall, Lucayan was fifth in a Group 3 at Longchamp before the disappointing race in the Prix Daniel Wildenstein.

By the Irish-bred stallion Turtle Bowl, Lucayan began workouts for Drysdale in February and had a quick six furlongs on turf here in 1:14 here on May 5.

“He’s come to hand very well,” Drysdale said. “I’m pleased with him.”

Julien Leparoux will ride Lucayan in the American Handicap, which has a field of six.

Other runners are Chosen Miracle, third in the San Simeon; Barocci, a Japanese-bred and stakes winner in France in 2011 who won an optional claimer here on April 28; Drill, a three-time stakes winner who was fourth in the San Simeon; and Racing Aptitude, unraced since winning an optional claimer on turf at Del Mar last August.

Bob Baffert trains Drill and Racing Aptitude. Drill won the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity on the synthetic main track there in September 2011.