05/03/2013 3:36PM

Hollywood Park: Mullins eyes Shoemaker Mile with Wilkinson

Shigeki Kikkawa
Wilkinson was winless in four starts at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Wilkinson won for the first time since last June in an optional claimer on turf at Betfair Hollywood Park on Thursday.

The victory did not leave trainer Jeff Mullins overanxious to start the two-time stakes winner in a stakes later this month.

Wilkinson won the Grade 2 American Handicap in his California debut last May, in a 44-1 upset, but will not start in the $150,000 American Handicap on May 25. Mullins said he would prefer to wait for the more prestigious $300,000 Shoemaker Mile on June 29.

The Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile is the richest turf race of the spring-summer meeting for males.

“I think we’ll shoot for the Shoemaker,” Mullins said. “I think the more time you can give him, the better.”

Thursday, Wilkinson, who is owned by E.K. Gaylord II, won an optional claimer over 1 1/16 miles on turf by a half-length over Dubai You X Y Z, the 6-5 favorite. Wilkinson disputed the early pace and led by 1 1/2 lengths with a furlong remaining. He was the third consecutive winner of the day for jockey Martin Pedroza.

The race lost some appeal when Lucayan, the upset winner of the French 2000 Guineas last year, was scratched Thursday morning. Trained by Neil Drysdale, Lucayan was scheduled to make his American debut Thursday.

Wilkinson was winless in four starts at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, including a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Arcadia Stakes in February. He was fifth after a wide trip in the Thunder Road Stakes over a mile on April 6.

“He had unlucky draws and got parked out wide,” Mullins said of Wilkinson’s races at the Santa Anita meeting.

A 5-year-old by Lemon Drop Kid, Wilkinson did not start in the second half of 2012 after undergoing surgery for colic. He returned to racing in late December.

At the current meeting, Wilkinson is one of two top turf milers in the Mullins stable. Mullins also has Chips All In, who won the Grade 3 San Simeon Stakes on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on April 20. Chips All In could run in the Shoemaker Mile, but may be better suited for the $70,000 Robert Kerlan Handicap over six furlongs on turf June 30, Mullins said.

Tiz a Minister on the mend

Tiz a Minister, who was briefly considered for the Kentucky Derby after finishing third in the Snow Chief Stakes on April 27, is recovering from a bruised foot detected last Monday, trainer Paul Aguirre said Friday.

Owned by Stephen Young, Tiz a Minister was withdrawn from consideration for the Kentucky Derby after the foot problem was detected. Aguirre said Friday that Tiz a Minister was still showing some effects of the soreness.

“It’s a good thing we didn’t go to Kentucky,” he said. “It was very bad for a few days after the race.”

Aguirre said that Tiz a Minister’s condition has improved in recent days and that he could resume training next week.

Races such as the $100,000 Affirmed Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on June 2 or the $100,000 Silky Sullivan Stakes for California-breds over a mile on turf at Golden Gate Fields on June 9 are possibilities for Tiz a Minister’s next start.

Leparoux draws ban

Jockey Julien Leparoux has been suspended three days for causing interference aboard Long Face in the Grade 3 Wilshire Handicap on April 28. Leparoux, who resumes riding in California on a full-time basis Sunday after spending recent weeks in Kentucky, has been suspended for three racing days, beginning Sunday, May 12.

Long Face finished second to Halo Dolly in the Wilshire over a mile on turf. In early stretch, Long Face bumped with Nobilis, who faded to finish sixth of seven. There was no change to the order of finish.