06/06/2013 2:41PM

Hollywood Park: Slim Shadey back at best game in Whittingham

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Slim Shadey has been the dominant turf horse at 1 1/4 miles on turf in California for the past 18 months.

At that distance, Slim Shadey won the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes in January 2012 and again in February of this year, the Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship last October, and was second to Acclamation in the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap in June 2012.

Slim Shadey can add the $200,000 Whittingham to his list of stakes wins on Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park, though the Whittingham is no longer Grade 1, having been downgraded to Grade 2 this year.

For Slim Shadey, the Whittingham could mark the end of a two-race losing streak since the San Marcos, setbacks that were accompanied by excuses.

Trained by Simon Callaghan for breeder Phil Cunningham, Slim Shadey was fifth in the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Stakes at 1 1/2 miles on turf at Santa Anita, a distance perhaps too far for the 5-year-old gelding.

In the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on a yielding course on May 4, Slim Shadey was sixth of seven behind 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan after causing a disruption at the gate.

“He got upset in the gate and he came back with his pastern swollen,” Callaghan said. “He probably shouldn’t have run that day. The turf was very testing. It didn’t happen for him.”

David Flores was aboard Slim Shadey for the 2012 San Marcos win and has the mount on Saturday. Since the Woodford Reserve, Slim Shadey has had three workouts on the main track at Santa Anita, giving Callaghan confidence that he can rebound in the Whittingham.

“He didn’t have a hard race,” he said of the Woodford Reserve. “We gave him an easy week or 10 days.”

Slim Shadey will probably be near the front early, likely joined by Lucky Primo, who has not raced since winning the California Cup Classic at Santa Anita in October. Lucky Primo has never raced at 1 1/4 miles, an issue that concerns trainer Joshua Litt.

“It’s a question going a mile and a quarter,” Litt said.

Litt said that his main goal for Lucky Primo this summer is the $150,000 California Dreamin’ Handicap for California-breds at Del Mar in July.

“I’d like to get him in the California Dreamin’ in the best shape as possible,” Litt said.

The Whittingham has been a goal on the schedule of the 4-year-old gelding All Squared Away since he lost the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano Handicap at about 1 3/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita on April 21. All Squared Away was beaten a nose by Interaction after leading by 1 1/2 lengths with a furlong remaining.

“He should have won,” trainer Peter Miller said. “He was three wide on both turns. He ran farther than the winner.”

All Squared Away was third to Slim Shadey in the San Marcos in February. Miller thinks tactics could work in favor of All Squared Away on Saturday.

“I think a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half is good,” Miller said. “It looks like there should be some pace with Slim Shadey and Lucky Primo. We should be in a good spot.”