05/28/2013 2:24PM

Hollywood Park: Starters for Tsunami Slew, Swaps may emerge from pair of allowance races


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The top 3-year-olds at Betfair Hollywood Park run Sunday in the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap, at least in theory.

But a pair of first-level allowance races Thursday might turn out as significant as the weekend stakes. Joelito faces Uno Dos Adios at a mile on turf in race 5; Curly Top meets Fighting Hussar and Little Jerry at 1 1/8 miles on the main track in race  7.

The turf allowance serves as a prep race for the $70,000 Tsunami Slew Stakes for 3-year-old grass horses June 23. The main-track allowance could lead to the Grade 2, $150,000 Swaps Stakes on July 4.

John Sadler trains Joelito, whose improvement coincides with a switch to grass and stretch to two turns.

“I’m convinced it was more the distance than the surface,” Sadler said. “But obviously he won easily on turf, so we kept him on it.”

Well regarded last summer at 2, Joelito’s campaign ended with sore shins after a runner-up finish in his second start. When Sadler stretched him out in an April turf race, he scored a decisive maiden win by 2  1/2 lengths.

Joelito went into the deep end next out – the Grade 2 American Turf at Churchill Downs.

“He drew the 10 going a mile, and never had a chance to drop over and save any ground,” Sadler said. “He was four- and five-wide and still only got beat two lengths.

“If he had a little different trip, he’s maybe not going to beat the winner, but for sure he’s going to finish second,” Sadler said.

Joelito finished fourth, beaten 2  1/2 lengths by Noble Tune, possibly the country’s top 3-year-old turf horse.

Thursday, Joelito drops in class as the deserving favorite under Joe Talamo. But he faces improving sprinter Uno Dos Adios, whose challenge is getting two turns.

“I think he’ll get it,” trainer Bill Spawr said. “All his works, he finishes very well.”

Uno Dos Adios was gelded prior to his Feb. 23 comeback, and delivered a terrific maiden win on the Santa Anita hill second start back. Spawr said he believes the best is still ahead for Unos Dos Adios, a son of City Zip.

“He’s been a difficult horse to deal with. He wants to do too much. That’s why we cut him, to try to get him to relax,” Spawr said. “I’ve never been happy with the way his hair lays, the way he looks, his muscle tone.”

Until now, that is.

“He’s never looked this good. He’s got a chance to be a decent horse,” Spawr said.

Mike Smith will ride Uno Dos Adios.

Horizon Sky makes his second start since being gelded, while adding blinkers and switching riders to Edwin Maldonado. Unbridled Giant and Square Dancer also entered.

Main-track 3-year-olds get their chance in race 7, a first-level allowance at the Swaps distance of 1 1/8 miles.

Curly Top makes his first start since Jan. 18 when he won a maiden route at Santa Anita. His workout pattern for trainer Bob Baffert suggests he is ready, he runs well fresh, and handles the Hollywood surface.

Little Jerry, who defeated Curly Top when they made their debut Nov. 18, returns to the main track.

“The distance is what I liked – the mile and an eighth,” trainer Richard Baltas said. “I still think he’s a good horse. He’s still figuring it out.”

Other starters include Snow Chief runner-up Fighting Hussar, Chief Havoc, Belvin, Jovita’s Tuffy, and I Don’t Care Who.