06/15/2011 2:30PM

Hollywood Park: Switch to get distance test in Vanity Handicap

Tom Keyser
Switch will try to stretch her speed 1 1/8 miles in Saturday's Grade 1 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Switch is a multiple Grade 1 winner at seven furlongs, a graded stakes winner at 1 1/16 miles, and nearly won a Grade 1 over 1 1/8 earlier this year.

The 4-year-old filly can seemingly do it all, but a time is approaching when owners Lee and Susan Searing and trainer John Sadler will decide whether to focus on sprints or routes for the rest of 2011.

Switch’s performance in Saturday’s $250,000 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park could make that an easier decision.

The Grade 1 Vanity is run over 1 1/8 miles, a distance that Switch has tried twice, finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Bonnie Miss Stakes at Gulfstream Park in March 2010 – before the first of her four stakes wins – and second, by a nose, to Vanity entrant Miss Match in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitational at Santa Anita in March.

A win in the Vanity, or even a narrow loss, would leave her connections able to contemplate the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic over 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs in November as a long-term goal. A disappointing loss may result in the BC Filly and Mare Sprint over seven furlongs being in Switch’s future. Last November, Switch finished second in the BC Filly and Mare Sprint as a 3-year-old.

The Vanity is Switch’s first start since a second to division leader Havre de Grace in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Invitational over 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn Park on April 15. Switch led at the eighth pole but could not hold off Havre de Grace, who won by three-quarters of a length.

“She’s been in light training and the time off was good for her,” Sadler said. “She’s put on some weight and looks stronger. The question for her is the distance.”

The competition is a major factor as well. The Vanity is expected to have a field of six, including Blind Luck, the champion 3-year-old filly of 2010 who won the Grade 2 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs last month; Miss Match, who was fourth in the Apple Blossom; and St Trinians, who was disqualified from first to fourth in the Grade 2 Milady Handicap here last month after causing interference in the stretch.

American Story and She’s Cheeky, promoted to second and third in the Milady, are the other entrants.

“American Story is a front-runner, that’s good for me,” Sadler said. “Blind Luck will be double tough.”

That lineup makes the Vanity one of the top races for the division this year, and a gauge on how some of the runners will be campaigned this summer and fall.

Majestic City eyes new BC Juvenile Sprint

The newly created $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint is a long-term prospect for Majestic City, winner of the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes last Sunday.

Trained by Peter Miller for Majestic Racing, Majestic City, by City Zip, is unbeaten in two starts and has earned $75,570. Purchased for $180,000 at the Ocala Breeders Sale of 2-year-olds in training in March, Majestic City won the Proctor by 3 1/2 lengths.

The Juvenile Sprint will be run over six furlongs during the Breeders’ Cup race days at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4-5.

“I think it’s a great deal,” Miller said. “I got excited for [Majestic City] and maybe possibly others.”

Miller said the new race provides an option for 2-year-olds that are not effective over 1 1/16 miles, the distance of the BC Juvenile.

“What about these 2-year-olds that don’t want to go two turns?” he said.

In the short term, Miller plans to start Majestic City in the $100,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship over six furlongs on July 17, the closing day of the spring-summer meeting.

The new race has the endorsement of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who wishes the Breeders’ Cup had thought of the idea a long time ago.

“I would have loved to have had that years ago when I had Officer and Forest Camp,” he said.

Forest Camp led into the stretch of the 1999 BC Juvenile at Gulfstream Park but faded to finish sixth. Two years later at Belmont Park, Officer led to the eighth pole of the BC Juvenile but wound up fifth.

Wellman resigns from Team Valor post

Aron Wellman has resigned as vice president of the Team Valor International syndicate, the partnership that won the Kentucky Derby last month with Animal Kingdom.

In a statement released earlier this week, Wellman, 33, did not divulge the reason for the resignation. In the statement, he said had no “firm plans” for future involvement in racing, and stated, “I’m confident the Thoroughbred horse racing industry hasn’t heard the last of me.”

The son of owner-breeders Michael and Cory Wellman, Aron Wellman joined Team Valor in January 2008, having previously practiced law. In the 2000s, he formed racing partnerships that raced the graded stakes winners Three Degrees and Valbenny in Southern California.

◗ Eblouissante, the unraced 2-year-old half-sister to 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta, had her first career workout at Hollywood Park on Wednesday – three furlongs in 38.80 seconds. The time ranked 19th of the 25 recorded works at the distance.

Trained by John Shirreffs for breeder Eric Kronfeld, Eblouissante has been based at Hollywood Park since late May.