06/17/2010 12:00AM

Hollywood roundup



Zenyatta finally got beat, or so it appeared with one furlong remaining June 13 in the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap. St Trinians had kicked away from Zenyatta, a 6-year-old mare carrying 129 pounds to her rival's 120. Then Zenyatta turned on the jets. She smoked the final eighth in about 11.50 seconds, collared St Trinians late, and was pulling away at the wire. The margin was a half length; it was Zenyatta's third consecutive Vanity win and 17th victory without a loss.

Zenyatta did not get beat after all, but trainer John Shirreffs said her preparation for the Vanity was less than perfect.

"Her last couple of works were a little on the slow side, so we were kind of concerned about that," he said. "She was always finishing well in her works; they just didn't set up the way we wanted in the morning."

The tentative next start for Zenyatta is Aug. 7 at Del Mar in the Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. Zenyatta would carry 123 pounds in the Hirsch, which she has won the last two years.

A day before Zenyatta earned a 103 Beyer defeating a worthy opponent, the 5-year-old gelding Rail Trip solidified his status as California's top older male, defeating a dreadful field by 2 3/4 lengths in the Grade 2 Californian. He earned a 108 Beyer. It was the second straight win by Rail Trip, who will be favored to win the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 10.

Rafael Bejarano rode Rail Trip to the pace-pressing victory and said, "I had so much horse at the end. It was nice to be able to save something for next time. He's getting better and better, and you can do anything you want with him."

The win by Rail Trip, now 8 for 11, would have been more satisfying with creditable opposition. But the male handicap division in California is only one horse deep.

Zenyatta's jockey, Mike Smith, on June 12 won the $62,000 six-furlong Desert Stormer Handicap for fillies and mares with Free Flying Soul, who rebounded from a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff in her previous start at Churchill Downs. Smith accepted blame for that loss.

"She ran a big race in Kentucky last time," he said. "I might have pulled the trigger a little soon. I was worried about the closers, and I was trying to get away from them. She still ran dynamite, and she came back and redeemed herself."

Actually, Free Flying Soul redeemed Smith. Not that he needed it. Riding eight stakes in an eight-day period, June 5 to 13, Smith won the Belmont (Drosselmeyer), Just a Game (Proviso), Vanity (Zenyatta), and Desert Stormer (Free Flying Soul). Free Flying Soul earned a career-high 98 Beyer and will target the seven-furlong, Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap on July 17.

Jerry Hollendorfer-trained 2-year-olds are still hot. Hollendorfer thought highly enough of the unraced 2-year-old colt Western Moon to nominate him to the Lost in the Fog Stakes on June 12 at Golden Gate. Rather than face winners, Western Mood made his debut against maidens the same day at Hollywood. He broke slow, rallied from eighth, and won by 1 3/4 lengths with a 72 Beyer. Hollendorfer this year already has won three races with 2-year-old maidens. In addition to Hollywood Juvenile-bound Western Mood, they are the filly Given Episode (May 30 at Hollywood) and colt Kingsford Drive (June 11 at Golden Gate).

Ultra Awesome became the first three-time winner at the meet when she crushed $10,000 claiming fillies and mares June 10 by 4 1/4 lengths while "ridden out." Now 7 for 15, Ultra Awesome was reclaimed by trainer Tim Yakteen. The 82 Beyer she earned suggests she will handle a multiple class hike.


Trainer Gary Sherlock has a bad case of "seconditis." When the maiden Sweet Patricia finished second June 13, it was the eighth runner-up finish from Sherlock's first 26 starters. The good news is that Sherlock's horses are firing, even if they are frustrating. Sherlock ended the week with one win, eight seconds, and three thirds from 28 starters.

When trainer Peter Miller won April 28 with his second 2-year-old starter at the meet, it looked like Miller was poised for a successful spring. But things turned out differently, and through June 12, Miller lost 13 straight races for 2-year-olds.

Rafael Bejarano was handed a five-day suspension (June 16-20) for his ride on Cinderella Stakes winner She'll Heir. Bejarano bulled She'll Heir ($3.20) between horses in the middle of the lane, angling out and bumping pacesetter Rockin Heather, who finished seventh. Stewards ruled the incident did not alter the order of finish. Through June 13, Bejarano held a 52-45 lead over Tyler Baze in the jockey standings.

Maybe next time for Indiara? Favored at 4-5, the maiden-claiming filly ran the best race of her career June 12, earning a 77 Beyer. However, it was her eighth straight loss, and her sixth straight at 4-1 or less. Indiara finished in the money five of eight.

They don't pack them into the Hollywood grandstand any more. The on-track crowd to watch Zenyatta win the Vanity was reported at 12,232.


The $163.60 win payoff by first-time starter Warren's Got Game (June 9, race 6) was the highest of the meet. Trained by Jorge Gutierrez and ridden by Alonso Quinonez, Warren's Got Game rallied from last in the maiden sprint for California-bred fillies and mares, winning by 2 1/2 lengths.

Chung Ming Hui from Flushing, N.Y., outlasted 2,206 others to win Hollywood's "Show Me The Money" online contest. Hui won the $2,500 winner-take-all contest, which requires players to pick one horse each day to finish first, second, or third. Players are eliminated when their horse runs out. The contest began May 2; only two players were left the final three days -- Hui and Betty Gahn of St. Louis. Hui stayed alive June 11, when Pride Of Wilshire finished third in race 1. Gahn was eliminated when odds-on The Skinny Man failed to complete the course in race 8.


The upcoming stakes schedule includes Grade 3 races for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles. Saturday in the Affirmed Handicap on the main track, Golden Itiz is expected to face Alphie's Bet and Distorted Dave. Sunday in the Will Rogers Stakes on turf, Grade 1 winner Line of David meets Bogie and Who's Up.

Handicapper Bob Ike, who recently swept a nine-race Hollywood card, will be Kurt Hoover's guest June 19 on "The Inside Scoop." Ike and Hoover will discuss Ike's 9-for-9 sweep of the May 22 card and analyze the Saturday races. The Inside Scoop begins at noon at the Paddock Tote Board.

The June 22 meeting of the California Horse Racing Board could be the most eagerly anticipated of the year. Scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Sunset Room at Hollywood, the CHRB meeting will include a presentation by Frank Stronach, whose company MID owns Santa Anita.


A Clever Ten

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer

Last race: June 9, 3rd

Finish: 3rd by 1/2

An improving turf sprinter, this odds-on filly had a tough trip in a first-level allowance. She veered outward and was slow from the gate, rushed, waited behind runners, and then finished evenly. Make her the one to beat in the next open allowance for turf sprinters.

On a Hi

Trainer: Gary Sherlock

Last race: June 9, 4th

Finish: 2nd by 2 1/2

A wide trip from a bad post (9 of 10) cost this juvenile maiden claimer all chance racing 5 1/2 furlongs. Five wide into the turn, he stayed wide losing ground, was six wide into the lane, yet finished in front of all but the rail-skimming winner. This gelding should be tough to beat in an upcoming maiden claimer for 2-year-olds.

Move On Gypsy

Trainer: Jim Cassidy

Last race: June 9, 6th

Finish: 5th by 6

This filly did nothing of consequence, except race one-paced in this sprint for Cal-bred maidens. But she is crying for two turns and ready to stretch out at a price.


Trainer: John Sadler

Last race: June 13, 8th

Finish: 6th by 15

The last-place finisher in the Grade 1 Vanity (won by Zenyatta) gets points for dueling on a fast pace before she cracked. Forced into the stakes when a suitable allowance race did not fill, she finished in a position that can be discounted. She actually ran very well before tiring into the lane and figures to be facing a whole lot softer next time.