05/25/2011 4:06PM

Hollywood Park: Midnight Interlude may focus on turf this summer

Barbara D. Livingston
Midnight Interlude may be switched to the turf this surmmer after running poorly on dir in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.t

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Santa Anita Derby winner Midnight Interlude may be switched to turf this summer after disappointing races in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, owner Arnold Zetcher said on Wednesday.

Midnight Interlude finished 16th of 19 in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7 and 13th of 14 in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico last Saturday.

“It’s almost like he didn’t run in those races,” Zetcher said. “Both of those races were disappointing. We thought he looked good going in. I wish we had better luck with those races.”

Trained by Bob Baffert, Midnight Interlude returned to Southern California earlier this week. “Everything is fine with him,” Zetcher said. “I think we’ll wait a little bit and get refreshed. We’re talking about the grass as a real possibility.”

Zetcher cited Midnight Interlude’s breeding as a reason to consider turf. Midnight Interlude is by War Chant, who won the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Mile on turf and is out of the New Zealand-bred mare Midnight Kiss, who was third in the New Zealand Oaks on turf.

There are no listed or graded stakes for 3-year-olds on turf at the current Hollywood Park meeting. At Del Mar, there are two graded stakes for 3-year-olds on turf – the $150,000 La Jolla Handicap on Aug. 13 and the $250,000 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 4.

Midnight Interlude has won 2 of 6 starts and $649,680.

Smith returns to ride two stakes contenders

Jockey Mike Smith will miss Friday evening’s program at Hollywood Park while returning from England, where he was booked to ride on Thursday.

Smith was scheduled to ride Gentlemans Code for American trainer Wesley Ward in a five-furlong maiden race at tiny Folkestone Racecourse, south of London, on Thursday. The race was expected to have just three starters.

Ward has sent nine horses to Europe this year, and plans to have starters at the Royal Ascot meeting in England next month.

Smith will resume riding at Hollywood Park on Saturday, according to his agent, Brad Pegram. Monday, Smith has leading chances in two major stakes, riding Cozi Rosie in the $250,000 Gamely Stakes, a Grade 1 for fillies and mares over 1 1/8 miles on turf; and Amazombie in the $100,000 Los Angeles Handicap, a Grade 3 over six furlongs on the main track.

Cozi Rosie faces a field led by Malibu Pier, who won the Grade 2 Santa Barbara Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita last month. Cozi Rosie was second in that race.

The Gamely field will not feature Well Monied, who was fourth in the 2010 running. Fourth in the Grade 3 Wilshire Handicap at Hollywood Park last month in her first start in 11 months, Well Monied has been sidelined by a stifle injury and will be pointed for the Del Mar meeting, trainer Howard Zucker said.

“We’ve decided to skip” the Gamely, Zucker said. “We had a tiny little setback and we decided to regroup a little bit. I think we’ll run over the summer. We missed a month. To get her back to it will take another six weeks.”

Zucker describes the injury as a “minor deal. It came at a bad time after all that vacation,” he said.

Cozi Rosie is trained by John Sadler, who will have leading runners in three major stakes this weekend.

Saturday, Sadler starts expected favorite Sidney’s Candy, in the $150,000 American Handicap over a mile on turf. Monday, Cost of Freedom will attempt to defend his title in the Los Angeles Handicap.

The American Handicap is likely to be the first of two turf stakes appearances for Sidney’s Candy at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting. The $300,000 Shoemaker Mile on July 3 is another possibility.

Sadler said on Wednesday that Sidney’s Candy is no longer under consideration for the Group 1 Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot next month, having been nominated to the race in April.

“We’ve notified them that we’ve dropped out,” he said. “I decided that it wasn’t our plan to go to Europe.”

Sidney’s Candy has won five stakes in his career, and will have at least seven rivals in the American – Goldwaki, Leroy’s Dynameaux, Liberian Freighter, Norvsky, Ryehill Dreamer, Smokey Lonesome and The Usual Q.T.

Liberian Freighter won the Grade 3 Inglewood Handicap beating Ryehill Dreamer and The Usual Q.T. on April 24.

Two stakes options for Crown of Thorns

Crown of Thorns, the winner of the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap on May 7, is being considered for two stakes in June after missing Monday’s Metropolitan Mile at Belmont Park because of a quarter crack.

Trainer Richard Mandella said the $150,000 Californian Stakes on June 4 or the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 18 are possibilities.

“With the Met Mile it was close [timing] to begin with and there wasn’t room for error,” Mandella said. “We had an error. Everything looks good now.”