05/22/2012 4:19PM

Hollywood Park: Racing Aptitude looks ready for his return in Thursday optional claimer

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Benoit & Associates
Racing Aptitude returns to action in an optional claimer Thursday at Betfair Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Trick question: Which six-furlong race is easier?

Is it a Grade 3 with a $100,000 purse, or an allowance worth $62,000?

The allowance, of course, should be easier. But four of the six runners in the race 7 feature Thursday at Betfair Hollywood Park were plucked from the nominations of the Los Angeles Handicap on Memorial Day Monday, and their presence in the Thursday allowance makes the race almost as compelling as the $100,000 stakes three days later.

While a case can be made for most in the allowance field, the top threats are stakes nominees Racing Aptitude, Bench Points, Italian Rules, and Indian Firewater.

The only time Racing Aptitude raced at Hollywood, he won an allowance sprint by more than four lengths. That was more than six months ago, and after a midfield finish Dec. 26 in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita, trainer Bob Baffert put him away to wait for spring and his favorite surface.

Racing Aptitude’s workout pattern suggests he is ready to fire.

Rafael Bejarano rides the gelding for the first time, and if he reproduces his best form while shortening in distance, he can win.

Racing Aptitude has won three races and $149,850 from 12 starts.

Bench Points has not raced in more than nine months, but he also has worked well for his return. Tim Yakteen trains the California-bred gelding who has won five races and $290,280 from nine starts. Bench Points, winner of the Grade 3 Laz Barrera last May at Hollywood, will be ridden by Alonso Quinonez.

Italian Rules lost his chance at the start of the Tiznow Stakes one month ago. Favored at 2-1, he was banged around at the break, did not produce his customary speed, and finished second behind runaway winner Mobilized. Italian Rules shortens from 7 1/2 to six furlongs Thursday.

A seven-time winner of $349,580 from 24 starts, Italian Rules is eligible to the race because he is entered for the $100,000 claiming price. Trained by John Sadler, Italian Rules will be ridden Joel Rosario.

Indian Firewater has not won since the Grade 2 San Fernando at 1 1/16 miles in January 2011. But the consistent 5-year-old is always in the hunt, and the alternative to Thursday is a Los Angeles Handicap showdown with Bob Baffert-trained stablemate Roman Threat.

Two others in the Thursday are Smart Spending and Live Sundays.