05/17/2004 11:00PM

Hot Market wins for first time in 18 months

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The win was long overdue. Several handicapping factors converged in favor of Hot Market on Sunday at Hollywood Park, and the veteran gelding was good enough to exploit the advantage.

A stakes winner, Hot Market snapped an 18-month, eight-race losing streak to win a $32,000 claiming route by two lengths.

"He's got his problems, but he's a warrior," trainer Craig Lewis said after Hot Market paid a career-high $20 by racing gate to wire. It was his seventh win from 25 starts, and first since the On Trust Handicap Nov. 23, 2002.

"He's not what he once was," Lewis admitted, "but he's still got class."

Not only that, but Hollywood "is a nice place for a speed horse," Lewis said. Hot Market proved it.

The 6-year-old gray, owned and bred by Harris Farms, set the pace under Mick Ruis and was never headed. He earned a 95 Beyer Figure and increased his earnings to $378,258. Not bad for a horse who has undergone knee surgery and two extended layoffs. In addition to past class, ability to control the pace, and carrying five pounds fewer than his main rivals, Hot Market holds an affinity for Hollywood, where he has won 4 of 7.

Lewis will not be overly ambitious with Hot Market, a California-bred by Cee's Tizzy who will run for a claiming tag again.

"He laid his body down, and knows it," Lewis said. "When he shows us he's ready, we'll turn him loose again."

The leading Cal-bred in Lewis's barn is headed to Texas. Valentine Dancer, winner of the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf in January, will run May 31 at Lone Star in the Grade 3 WinStar Distaff, a turf race for fillies and mares. Valentine Dancer has won six races and $605,506 in 18 starts for Al and Saundra Kirkwood.

Mitchell can't be two places at once

Mike Mitchell is dealing with an unusual issue. The leading trainer with 13 wins through Sunday at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meet, Mitchell has built his reputation around claiming horses. But the trainer has upgraded his stable the past few months, and on Memorial Day he faces a welcome predicament. Which state should he be in to saddle stakes runners - California or Texas?

Dell Place runs at Hollywood Park in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile; Kela and Pocketfullofpesos run in stakes at Lone Star the same day.

"I've never had that problem," Mitchell said.

Texas Mile winner Kela will be among the favorites for the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap; Pocketfullofpesos runs in the $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes for fillies and mares.

"If the plane lands, I'll be in Texas," said Mitchell, and he will be there again in June. Mitchell said Star Over the Bay, whom he claimed for $80,000 Sunday from a four-length turf win (101 Beyer), will ship out for the $200,000 Dallas Turf Cup on June 19.

Buddy Gil points for Ack Ack

Trainer Jeff Mullins said Tuesday that 2003 Santa Anita Derby winner Buddy Gil is being aimed to the $75,000 Ack Ack Handicap May 31 at Hollywood Park, while plans are undetermined for 2004 Santa Anita Derby winner Castledale. Buddy Gil won a one-mile classified allowance on April 16 at Santa Anita with a 106 Beyer, and will cut back to 7 1/2 furlongs for the Ack Ack. Castledale has not breezed since he finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby, and Mullins said, "He's not leaving California."

The trainer said Castledale will resume serious training "once he gets that sparkle back in his eye."

The 3-year-old Castledale has won graded stakes on dirt and turf, so he has plenty of options.

Glick's trip to England canceled

Plans have been scrapped for Grade 3 winner Glick to ship to Royal Ascot in England for a Group 1 turf sprint on June 19. Glick, who has won three races and $142,780 in four starts since Mullins and owner Robert Bone claimed him for $40,000 from trainer Nick Canani and owner Michael Gill, was being considered for the Golden Jubilee. Travel complications, however, altered plans for the race, which has a purse of approximately $445,000. The trip would necessitate travel by plane, van, ferry, and another van.

"They're wanting me to take three days to get there, and I'm not going to do it," Mullins said.

Boomzeeboom tries turf

Everything went wrong for Boomzeeboom when he shipped to Keeneland for the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes on April 17. First, a bomb scare at the airport delayed regular jockey Corey Nakatani and he was unable to make it to the track. Nakatani was replaced by jockey Rafael Bejarano, who met trainer Vladimir Cerin for the first time in the paddock. Boomzeeboom failed to produce his speed under Bejarano and finished last of 14. Plans for a shot at a Triple Crown race were scrapped.

Saturday, Boomzeeboom tries for better luck when he switches to grass in the Grade 3 Will Rogers for 3-year-olds at one mile. Boomzeeboom had a strong five-furlong turf work Sunday, and Cerin said, "His top side says he's supposed to like the grass."

Boomzeeboom is sired by Explosive Red, winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in 1993. Boomzeeboom's Will Rogers rivals will include Laura's Lucky Boy, Mambo Train, Running Free, and Toasted.