07/04/2012 3:29PM

Hollywood Park: Royal Heroine key for Mega Dream's future

Shigeki Kikkawa
Mega Dream, winner of the Great Lady M Stakes, will seek her first graded stakes victory in the Royal Heroine.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Mega Dream, a $40,000 bargain purchase last fall, is unlikely to be in trainer Jeff Bonde’s stable very much longer.

The winner of her stakes debut in the Great Lady M Stakes over six furlongs on turf at Betfair Hollywood Park on May 27, Mega Dream makes her graded stakes debut in Saturday’s $150,000 Royal Heroine Mile.

The result of that race will determine how much longer Mega Dream is with Bonde and partners Barry Arnason, Jerry Durant, and Mersad Metanovic.

There are sale opportunities later this month and in November. Mega Dream is entered in the July 22 Del Mar paddock sale, but a top-three finish Saturday could prolong her career with Bonde and partners until November, when she could be entered in a sale in Kentucky, Metanovic said Wednesday.

“We’ll play it by ear,” he said.

Mega Dream was bought last fall at a sale in Kentucky and is undefeated this year, having won an optional claimer in her debut for Bonde at Oaklawn Park on April 13 and the Great Lady M Stakes. In the Great Lady M, she closed from sixth in the final quarter-mile to win convincingly by 1 1/4 lengths.

“She finished like a wild horse,” Bonde said. “It was quite a race to watch.”

Mega Dream, a 5-year-old mare by Medaglia d’Oro, has won 4 of 11 starts and $146,585. She beat maidens going 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland in April 2011, when trained by Ralph Nicks, but lost her next three starts, all around two turns. Bonde is expecting a better effort in Saturday’s one-mile race.

“The pedigree says she should run better,” Bonde said. “We’re optimistic.”

The competition is steep. The expected field of eight includes stakes winners All Star Heart, Briecat, City to City, Nereid, Quiet Oasis, and Up In Time. Ninth Infantry, who has won her last two starts, both in optional claimers, may set the pace.

All Star Heart and Briecat were first and third in the Redondo Beach Stakes here June 10. Quiet Oasis won the Grade 3 Wilshire Handicap here in April, and was second to Belle Royale in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes on May 28.

Gryder, Nakatani returning to SoCal

Jockeys Aaron Gryder and Corey Nakatani are returning to Southern California.

Gryder has been riding in Northern California. He was booked to ride at Hollywood Thursday and has one mount on Friday evening’s program, The Only Key in an optional claimer over 1 1/16 miles.

Nakatani rode in Southern California until April 1 and spent the spring and early summer riding in Arkansas, Kentucky, and New York. His new agent, Brian Beach, said that Nakatani is returning to Southern California to be closer to family.

Nakatani is expected to ride the final week of Hollywood Park, beginning next Thursday.

Gryder, Sutherland to Shergar Cup

Gryder and Chantal Sutherland have been invited to ride at the Shergar Cup at Ascot, England, on Aug. 11.

The Shergar Cup is an annual jockeys’ competition that features riders organized in teams representing Great Britain and Ireland, Europe, and the Rest of the World.

Gryder will compete for the Rest of the World, while Sutherland will be part of the first all-female team, along with Hayley Turner of Great Britain and Emma-Jayne Wilson of Canada.

◗ Paynter, second to Union Rags in the Belmont Stakes, zipped five furlongs in 58.60 seconds at Santa Anita on Wednesday, his first workout since the Belmont. Trainer Bob Baffert has two races at Saratoga in mind for Paynter – the $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on July 28 and the $1 million Travers Stakes over 1 1/4 miles on Aug. 25.