06/11/2009 11:00PM

Indian Blessing resurfaces in Desert Stormer

Barbara D. Livingston
Indian Blessing, who missed a scheduled start in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff, will prep for the A Gleam Handicap in Sunday's Desert Stormer.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Indian Blessing, the champion female sprinter of 2008, will make her first start in nearly three months in Sunday's $70,000 Desert Stormer Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Trainer Bob Baffert said the Desert Stormer, run at six furlongs for fillies and mares, is a prep for the $150,000 A Gleam Handicap at seven furlongs here on July 18 for Indian Blessing.

"She's running," Baffert said. "I want to see how she'll handle the track."

Owned by breeders Hal and Patti Earnhardt, Indian Blessing has not started since finishing second against males in the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai on March 28. Baffert shipped Indian Blessing to Churchill Downs for the Grade 1 Humana Distaff on May 2, but withdrew her from consideration a few days before the race.

"It didn't work out," he said. "She looks good now."

The Desert Stormer has drawn a field of eight, including Waveline, who won the B. Thoughtful Stakes here on April 25.

Obrigado tops Round Table

In his last 23 starts, spread over three years, Obrigado has started in 21 stakes, one allowance race, and one optional claimer. He has never been entered for a claiming price.

The same cannot be said for Obrigado's four rivals in Saturday's $100,000 Round Table Handicap at Hollywood Park. Leesider, Plug Me In, Porfido, and Zappa all started in claiming races in their last start.

Not surprisingly, Obrigado will be favored in the Grade 3 Round Table at 1 3/4 miles on turf.

Trained by Neil Drysdale for Gary Seidler and Peter Vegso, Obrigado is winless in his last 15 starts, since the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo Handicap at Santa Anita in February 2007. Since then, he has placed in four graded stakes, including a third in the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano Handicap at about 1 3/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita in April.

In his last start, Obrigado was sixth in the Grade 3 Golden Gate Fields Turf Stakes at 1 3/8 miles on May 30.

"He had a terrible trip up north," Drysdale said. "The race was a mile and three-eighths and he ran a mile and a half."

Drysdale acknowledges that Obrigado has a lengthy losing streak, but said performances such as the San Juan Capistrano prove that the 6-year-old gelding is capable of running well.

"He's been a good soldier," Drysdale said. "I know his form is a little inconsistent, but he's been right there and had excuses."

Obrigado may not need to be at his best to win the Round Table. Of his four rivals, only Zappa has won a stakes in the last year, doing so in the Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar last August.

Life Is Sweet set for late June start

Life Is Sweet, the winner of the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap in March and second to undefeated champion Zenyatta in the Grade 2 Milady Handicap last month, worked six furlongs in 1:11.80 on Thursday at Hollywood Park.

Owned by Marty and Pam Wygod, Life Is Sweet is expected to make her next start against Zenyatta in the $300,000 Vanity Handicap on June 27 or in the $150,000 Beverly Hills Handicap on turf on June 28.

Trainer John Shirreffs said the weight assignments may play a factor in the decision. Shirreffs also trains Zenyatta.

A three-time stakes winner at Santa Anita during the winter, Life Is Sweet worked in company with Yankee Station, starting two lengths behind her stablemate and drawing even in early stretch. There was little between them at the finish. Life Is Sweet's final time equaled the fastest of 10 works at the distance.

"She's very relaxed now in the middle of her campaign," Shirreffs said. "She was just playing around."

Gryder to ride in Hong Kong

The runaway win by Well Armed in the $6 million Dubai World Cup has opened international doors for California-based jockey Aaron Gryder, who has accepted an invitation to ride in Hong Kong for two weeks. He leaves Tuesday.

"It's an honor to be invited and recognized for the World Cup," Gryder said. The jockey, who has never ridden in Hong Kong, said he looks forward to the challenge: "They run the opposite direction there, which I have always wanted to do."

Gryder will spend 15 days in Hong Kong and ride four days - June 21, 24, and 28 at Sha Tin, and July 1 at Happy Valley. As for this weekend, it will be a whirlwind for Gryder. He rides Santa Teresita in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis on Saturday at Churchill Downs, he rides Sunday at Hollywood Park, takes his family to Disneyland on Monday, and leaves for Hong Kong on Tuesday.

Gryder entered the Thursday card at Hollywood Park ranked ninth in the standings with nine wins from 112 mounts. Gryder will not miss his top mounts while he is gone. Well Armed is not scheduled to return until Del Mar, the top grass sprinter Desert Code is sidelined, and stakes-winning turf mare Wild Promises is just starting back.

- additional reporting by Brad Free