05/05/2008 11:00PM

Juvenile race comes up strong


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The last race on the card Thursday at Hollywood Park is the best race on the card and the first really good race of the season for 2-year-olds, so good that trainer Peter Miller said "my eyes started to hurt."

They should. Miller entered two first-time starters in the 4 1/2-furlong maiden race - Backbackbackgone and also-eligible The Final Roar. Both are quick, both are bred to win early, and both are well-meant. And, they are in tough.

The "steam horse" is Cut the Check, a Walther Solis-trained Sky Mesa colt who has been blazing in the morning.

"This guy can run," Solis said. "He's quick. If he does good in this race, then I have something."

In fact, it appears race 8 is stacked beyond Backbackbackgone and Cut the Check. Azul Leon is by freshman sire Lion Heart, who is 2 for 4 with rookies; Fassnacht is a Johannesburg gelding trained by Mike Harrington, whose three winners this meet were 2-year-old firsters; and Nochangenweather is a $400,000 purchase at a 2-year-olds in training sale.

Nochangenweather is trained by Eric Guillot, who was surprised at the quality of the race.

"What happened to a six-horse field with a bunch of 49 [-second] workers?" he said.

Apparently, they skipped this race.

According to Guillot, Nochangenweather is a "big, strong colt I think can stretch out; I don't know if he's precocious."

Sired by Lightnin N Thunder, who stands for a $4,000 stud fee, Nochangenweather is one of more than two dozen 2-year-olds in training with Guillot.

Miller has nearly as many, and after a 3-for-10 mark last summer with debut 2-year-olds, he enters 2008 with about 20. Backbackbackgone "has a lot of speed, he hasn't missed a beat," Miller said. But Miller said also-eligible The Final Roar "is probably a little quicker." Both are owned by Gerson Racing and partners.

Jose Valdivia has been working Cut the Check for Solis and giving rave reviews.

"From what Jose has been telling me, this is a nice horse," Solis said. "The day he worked 46, he went 22, 33-and-3, and I had him in 45.60. He's quick."