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Hollywood seeks 4-day week for rest of meet
INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Hollywood Park intends to run four days a week through the conclusion of the spring-summer meeting on July 19, pending approval from the California Horse Racing Board, track president Jack Liebau said Wednesday.
The track will ask the racing board for permission to eliminate racing on five Wednesdays - June 17 and 24 and July 1, 8, and 15 - and run four days a week on a Thursday-through-Sunday basis.
"We are certainly going to petition" the racing board, Liebau said. "It's in the best interest of Southern California racing to go with this."
The issue will be discussed at the racing board's next meeting at Santa Anita on June 5.
The latest request will result in Hollywood Park running nine fewer days than originally scheduled.
Earlier this month, Hollywood Park cut four weekdays from its racing schedule in late May and early June, citing a decline in race-ready horses on the Southern California circuit. The track struggled to fill races during the first four weeks of the meeting, which began April 22, and even canceled one day, April 30, because of insufficient entries.
This week, for example, there was no racing on Thursday, a day in which racing was originally scheduled, leaving three days of racing from Friday through Sunday.
The track eliminated Wednesday racing beginning May 21 and saw a leap in average field size. From May 21 through Monday, the Memorial Day program, the track averaged 8.11 starters per race.
For the first four weeks of the meeting, from April 22 to May 18, while running as many as five days a week, fields averaged 7.52 starters per race. For the entire meeting, fields have averaged 7.65 starters per race, down from the 8.25 starters per race at the entire 2008 spring-summer meeting.
The issue of reducing racing days is not limited to Hollywood Park. Del Mar announced in April that it will cut six days of racing from its upcoming summer meeting, eliminating Monday racing. The track will run one Monday - Labor Day, Sept. 7.
Magical Fantasy gets test in Gamely
Magical Fantasy's win in the Grade 2 Santa Barbara Handicap at Santa Anita last month was not as prestigious as her upset victory in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks last summer. But it may have meant more to the overall perspective of her career.
Magical Fantasy was a 42-1 longshot in the Del Mar Oaks, and her win at odds of 3-1 in the Santa Barbara Handicap proved that performance was not a fluke. A win in Saturday's $250,000 Gamely Stakes would further enhance her reputation.
"To come back and beat older fillies, it was good to win one of those," trainer Paddy Gallagher said of the Santa Barbara. "In the Del Mar Oaks, she was a longshot, but she'd been unlucky in a couple of races prior to that."
Magical Fantasy has won 3 of 14 starts and $452,431. Despite her two major stakes wins, adding to those earnings will not be easy in the Gamely, a Grade 1 run at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
The race drew a field of 11, including Santa Barbara runner-up Black Mamba, and Diamond Diva, winner of the 2008 CashCall Mile. Rutherienne, who was third in the 2008 Gamely, was considered for the race, but trainer Christophe Clement opted for a stakes at Woodbine.
Gallagher thinks the conditions, particularly the distance, will work in favor of Magical Fantasy.
"I think the mile and an eighth is a good distance for her," he said. "She's done well since the Santa Barbara."
Hebert sends first starter of meet
Jeff Hebert, who brought a nine-horse stable of 2-year-olds from Louisiana earlier this year, has his first starter of the year in Friday's third race with Secret Heiress.
Owned by Whispering Oaks Farm, Secret Heiress is entered in a $40,000 claiming race for maidens at five furlongs.
"She sure seems like a professional," Hebert said. "She should be live in that spot."
Hebert, 47, had hoped to have a few starters earlier this month, but the stable missed a week of training because of illness shortly after arriving from Louisiana.
"We got five [to start] in the next couple of weeks," he said.
Hebert resumed training earlier this year after taking a break from the sport to work in the family's video poker business in Louisiana, which has since been sold. He resumed buying yearlings last year and prepared the current string of horses at a farm in Vinton, La.
Daytona out for season with injury
Daytona, a six-time stakes winner, is out until 2010 after injuring a tendon in a recent workout, trainer Dan Hendricks said.
The injury occurred as Daytona was nearing a comeback for his first start since a 10th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita last October.
"He came up with a slight tear in his tendon sheath," Hendricks said. "We were starting to look for a race. It's slight, and I've had good luck with these kind of injuries. I'm disappointed that I have to wait another year."
Daytona, 5, has won two Grade 1 races in his career - the 2007 Hollywood Derby and the 2008 Shoemaker Mile.
Bejarano gets three-day ban
Jockey Rafael Bejarano has been given a three-day suspension for causing interference in the first race last Friday.
Bejarano was cited for failing to maintain a straight course aboard Multitasker, who won the race. There was no disqualification in the four-runner field.
Bejarano's suspension begins Saturday and concludes Wednesday. He will be allowed to ride the two graded stakes this week, since they are designated races, exempt from routine suspensions.
Through Monday, Bejarano led all riders with 37 wins, four more than Joel Rosario.
Memorial set for ex-trainer Cardiel
Retired trainer Fidel Cardiel died May 19 after a two-year battle with cancer, according to a statement released by his friends.
A native of Mexico, Cardiel trained Thoroughbreds throughout Southern California as well in Caliente, Mexico. He retired in 1997 and launched an equine poultice business, which kept him active in Thoroughbred racing.
Cardiel is survived by his wife of 58 years, Carmen; and two daughters.
A mass will be held for Cardiel at 10 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of Guadalupe, 345 Anita St., Chula Vista, Calif. A celebration of life will be held Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. at Mission Hills Clubhouse, 30201 Outpost Drive, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.