06/23/2010 11:00PM

Hollywood roundup



New shooter Alex Gonzalez stepped right into the riding colony here as a bug boy and made an impression, winning four times in his first few days since moving south after the recently concluded Golden Gate meeting.

Gonzalez, 18, won 61 races this year at Golden Gate. He is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Martin Garcia and Joel Rosario, who also used Northern California as a springboard to this circuit.

Gonzalez rode his first winner at Calder last July and stayed there until November, when he moved to Northern California. He will have his five-pound bug until November.

Peruvian apprentice Johnny Gihua has also made some noise. He notched his first U.S. victory Wednesday aboard El Scorpio, posting a half-length win in 1:08.25 for six furlongs on turf for trainer Doug O'Neill.

O'Neill, the meet's leading trainer, had a great start last week with some help from Gihua's win aboard El Scorpio. Coming into this week, he had two more wins than Mike Mitchell, 20-18, but a three-bagger Wednesday gave him some breathing room. Mitchell wasn't left out in the cold, though, as he saddled a winner that day, keeping O'Neill within reach at 23-19. John Sadler and Bob Baffert were on their heels with 17 and 16 wins.

Saturday was big for jockey Alonzo Quinonez, who had three wins, including two for trainer Peter Eurton.


It was a four-day race week after Thursday's card was scrapped because of a lack of entries. The racing office had already planned to cancel three Wednesday cards − June 30, July 7, and July 14.

Leading rider Rafael Bejarano served a five-day suspension last week for failing to make an effort to keep a straight course in the stretch with She'll Heir, who won the June 9 Cinderella. He could still ride designated races such as the Grade 3 Affirmed on Saturday aboard Ranger Heartley and the Grade 3 Will Rogers on Sunday aboard Camp Victory.

Things got a bit closer in the rider standings because of Bejarano's absence. He remained at 52 wins, but Tyler Baze won five races last week to get to 50, and Rosario won seven races to get to 43.


Sidney's Candy, the winner of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, continues to work for trainer John Sadler with an eye toward the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes over 1 1/8 miles here July 17.

Sidney's Candy was last seen faltering to finish 17th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 1. In that race, Sidney's Candy was second chasing the hot pace of Conveyance for the first six furlongs before fading on the far turn.

Sadler said Switch, winner of the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks over division leader Blind Luck, will race at Del Mar this summer, though that probably means she will move to the turf. Del Mar does not have any graded stakes restricted to 3-year-old fillies on its Polytrack surface, but it does have two graded turf stakes for the division: the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap at a mile July 25 and the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks at 1 1/8 miles Aug. 21.

Sadler reported he is targeting the Grade 1 American Oaks on July 3 with Cozi Rosie, the Grade 2 American Handicap on July 4 with Oil Man, and the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap on July 17 with Alpha Kitten.

He will not run Line of David again, however. Line of David, who beat eventual Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, was sold and retired to a stud career earlier this week after some injuries.

Zenyatta, trained by John Shirreffs, had her first gallop Thursday since her historic Grade 1 Vanity win June 13. Shirreffs also trains Scenic Blast, a grass sprinter who won multiple Group 1 races in Australia. Scenic Blast, a 6-year-old gelding, could make his first U.S. start in the Robert K. Kerlan Memorial Handicap at six furlongs on the turf at Hollywood June 27. He has won 8 of 21 for $1.3 million.

Unzip Me, who may have established herself as the top grass sprinting distaffer on the West Coast, could take on the boys in the Kerlan, according to trainer Marty Jones. A 4-year-old filly, Unzip Me has won three straight, including the Great Lady M. here May 21.

Owner Bud Johnston said Acclamation, front-running winner of the Grade 2 Jim Murray and Grade 1 Charles Whittingham handicaps this meet, is being considered for the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth on July 3.


The Pamplemousse, who was scratched from the 2009 Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby with a tendon injury to his left front leg, returned to training for Julio Canani last week. The Pamplemousse won two Grade 3 stakes last winter, using his stellar speed to run his rivals off their feet. He had surgery and has undergone a long rehab to try to return to the races. Canani said that The Pamplemousse is doing well but that he will take his time with the horse.

Canani said he had another horse, Val Royal, endure a similar injury. Val Royal came back better than ever, winning the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile and Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile in 2001.

Also back in training is the highly promising 3-year-old Take Control, who went three furlongs in 36.80 on June 18. A $1.9 million son of champions A.P. Indy and Azeri, he made a sensational first impression winning his debut for Bob Baffert at Santa Anita in December. After that big win, going a mile no less, the colt bucked shins and had to go the sidelines. Baffert said that the layoff may have been a blessing in disguise and that Take Control has filled out and looks terrific. Baffert said he has no long-term plans yet.

Baffert said Sangaree, third to Rail Trip in the Grade 2 Californian, will try the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 10 and will probably be his only starter. Misremembered, the winner of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap earlier this year, was turned out in early spring and is unlikely to return again until the fall. Richard's Kid, the winner of the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita in February but seventh in the Dubai World Cup, is eyeing a return in Del Mar's Grade 2 San Diego Handicap on July 31.


Lookin at Lucky may be the top 3-year-old out West, followed by Sidney's Candy, but there's a new shooter in town in Golden Itiz, winner of Saturday's Grade 3 Affirmed. Making his first stakes start, Golden Itiz chased a brisk pace of Ranger Heartley, steadily advanced to the far turn, and wore down Skipshot inside the final furlong and edged clear. The Swaps is his next target, and he figures to be tough again. He also gives trainer Ron Ellis a strong hand among males - Ellis also trains top older male Rail Trip.


Toro Bonito

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Last race: June 16, 6th

Finish: 2nd by 4 3/4

She was no match for her winning stablemate Rapport in this first-level allowance sprint, but the filly hinted she may be ready to return to the form that saw her finish third in the Hollywood Starlet in 2008. Off a layoff and strong works, she was away a bit slowly, bided her time, came with a smart run into the lane, and while unable to threaten the impressive winner kept to her task nicely for the place.

Lodi Red

Trainer: Sean McCarthy

Last race: June 18, 5th

Finish: 2nd by 1/2

Could be the light has gone on and he's ready to turn the corner. After a couple of modest outings, he perked up to be third here May 22. He went one better here, biding his time stalking before launching his bid into the lane in his return to turf. He couldn't get to winner Syncobeat, but he was gaining with each stride. It's no shock he enjoys routing on turf, being by multiple Grade 1 turf Stakes winner Redattore.


Trainer: Jorge Periban

Last race: June 20, 6th

Finish: 3rd by 4 1/4

A class drop off a better-than-looked sixth when beaten just 2 1/4 lengths for $50,000 went for naught as this daughter of BC Mile winner Singletary got away slowly. She broke last in the field of eight, was content to bide her time after the sluggish start, advanced to the far turn, and finished decently for third -- though with the slow start she had left herself too much to do. May help your price next time.