04/25/2013 4:04PM

Hollywood Park: Mel's Game stands out in Tiznow


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Mel’s Game would have had a tougher fight on his hands in the $125,000 Tiznow Stakes if Amazombie entered, or if John Scott entered in peak form.

Since neither happened, Mel’s Game appears a standout while seeking his fourth straight win Saturday in the 7 1/2-furlong Tiznow at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Eight older California-bred runners entered, but not Amazombie. His 2013 debut was postponed by foot trouble. John Scott is in the lineup, but after getting sick and missing three weeks of training he might not be at the top of his game.

That leaves Mel’s Game as the dominant runner in race 5, first leg of the pick six on California Gold Rush Day. The fact he drew the inside post and has been training all winter on dirt at Santa Anita is of little concern for trainer Mike Mitchell.

[CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH: Get Hollywood PPs, watch Saturday's card live]

“The rail doesn’t bother me,” Mitchell said. “He drew the rail and overcame it last time. This time, it’s a tougher race. It’s a good group of horses.”

Well, maybe. John Scott, a 6-for-12, three-time stakes winner, got sick and scratched March 16 from the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Stakes. Though John Scott won both previous starts on Cushion Track, trainer Carla Gaines suspects the Tiznow is a race he needs.

“It’s a place to get started,” Gaines said. “He’s probably not tipping over at the top of his game.”

John Scott returns with a series of five-furlong works, and his class could allow him to outrun his conditioning.

Others in the field face similar questions, including Holladay Road, unraced since October. Planet Sunshine returns from a similar layoff, and He Be Fire N Ice is not a confirmed starter. That leaves late-running allowance horse Kate’s Event, sharp Rock Me Baby, and Golden Gate-based Bailouttheminister as contenders.

Mel’s Game won all three starts this winter at Santa Anita, including a crushing win last out over a stakes-caliber field of statebreds. His recent Beyer Speed Figures of 93 and 97 say he is fast enough. The handicapping question is if a horse who has trained all winter on dirt at Santa Anita can be effective on Cushion Track at Hollywood.

Mitchell recently moved his operation from Hollywood and purchased a home near Santa Anita. He knows what is required to win on Cushion Track.

“A lot is putting a good foundation and legging them up really good,” Mitchell said. “That’s what I have done. He has been galloping nice and tough.”

Julien Leparoux will ride Mel’s Game, who is owned by his breeder Nick Alexander. A son of Game Plan, Mel’s Game has won 3 of 5.

Bailoutthenminister posted a bullet five-furlong workout at Hollywood on April 21 in 58.80 seconds. He won 5 of 11 on synthetic in Northern California. Kate’s Event will rally late.