04/20/2011 1:24PM

Hollywood Park: Shirreffs concerned how Makoma will handle first night-time racing experience

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – With 2 wins in 4 starts, Makoma will be favored in Friday’s third race at Hollywood Park, a second-level optional $62,500 claimer over 1 1/16 miles.

It is the third of eight races on a program that begins at 7:05 p.m. Pacific, and it is the evening aspect of that scenario that concerns trainer John Shirreffs.

“She should do well if she doesn’t have Friday night-itis,” Shirreffs said.

Shirreffs is unsure how Makoma will react to racing and being saddled in the evening.

“She can get a little hot,” he said. “I would have liked to have taken her to the paddock a few times.”

Owned by breeders Jerry and Ann Moss, Makoma appears to be the filly to beat in a race that drew just five entrants. Shirreffs has few concerns about her talent.

Makoma did not start until last October, winning her debut at Hollywood Park in a maiden race over 6 1/2 furlongs. She closed from sixth to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

“She was a little slow coming around to the races,” Shirreffs said.

After finishing fifth in her first start against winners in December, Makoma was second and first in optional claimers at Santa Anita in January and February.

Shirreffs hoped to give her a third start at Santa Anita before that track’s winter-spring meeting ended last Sunday, but a suitable race did not draw sufficient entries.

In Friday’s race, Makoma will be off the pace early, likely in pursuit of American Story and Lea the Punisher. Crisis of Spirit and Gumption, both of whom are coming off losses in sprints at Santa Anita in March, are the other starters.

American Story, 4, has won 2 of 4 starts for Kaleem Shah and trainer Bob Baffert. She won a maiden race and an optional claimer at Del Mar before finishing her 3-year-old season with a second in the Remington Park Oaks last October. In her lone start this year, American Story was second in the Harry Hensen Stakes over a mile at Sunland Park on March 27.

Lea the Punisher beat Makoma by a neck on Jan. 28, but was only seventh in an optional claimer over seven furlongs on Feb. 18. The return to a two-turn race should make Lea the Punisher, trained by Richard Mandella, more effective. Last fall, Lea the Punisher beat maidens in a one-mile turf race at Hollywood Park.

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