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Juveniles all around on first week
INGLEWOOD, Calif. - It is opening weekend of the spring-summer meet at Hollywood Park, and the handicapping notebook is full, with stuff like this . . .
* Hollywood trainer Walther Solis is loaded with 2-year-olds, including the 5 1/4-length debut winner of the first race Wednesday. Belleofthebridle ($4.40), by Yes It's True, raced 4 1/2 furlongs in 51.59 seconds and earned an 81 Beyer Speed Figure as the only filly involved. Of course, everyone knows gender is insignificant in 2-year-old races.
* A 2-year-old Indian Charlie filly named Follow My Tail has been lighting up the track in morning works. Keep an eye out for the uniquely colored filly, whose bullet works include 35.40 seconds from the gate April 11, and 47.80 on April 4. Guess the trainer? It is Solis.
* Hollywood spring means trainer Mike Harrington is busy with Swiss Yodeler 2-year-olds.
"We're ready," Harrington said. "That's what keeps us going, the babies." Harrington finished 3-4 Wednesday in race 1 with Edgewick Road and Norman Conqueror. More will follow. Harrington has 22 juveniles, 16 by Swiss Yodeler.
* Last spring at Hollywood, Doug O'Neill was unstoppable with juveniles, winning 10 of the 45 races for 2-year-olds. O'Neill's babies are behind schedule this spring, but watch out later this meet. The O'Neill group includes homebred offspring of Momentum, and Barretts purchases by Broken Vow, E Dubai, Aragorn, and In Excess.
* Want to make money betting 2-year-olds at Hollywood? It's easy. Just back the rail post at 4 1/2 furlongs. The past 10 years at the distance, the inside post is 35 for 155 (22.5 percent), while producing a huge flat-bet profit. Last year, post 1 was 5 for 14 at the distance, including wins by $14.60 Track N Attack and $16.60 Great Wheels. Polite reminder: If you're betting a post-position "angle," you have to bet it every time.
* "Friday Night Lights" fans will appreciate the name of a 2-year-old working for Bob Baffert: Smash. Named for the television-show character Brian "Smash" Williams, star running back of the Dillon High School Panthers, Smash worked three furlongs Tuesday at Santa Anita. The last time Baffert ran a 2-year-old Smart Strike maiden at Hollywood, he turned out to be a good one: Lookin At Lucky.
* Bob Black Jack is retired, but his unraced full sister is in training. Stormy Victory, by Stormy Jack and out of Molly's Prospector, is with Doug O'Neill at Hollywood. Can the 3-year-old filly run? Don't know. Stay tuned.
* Bruce Headley-trained M One Rifle is the top Cal-bred sprinter, and Headley is gearing him for a May 16 comeback in the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap. Meanwhile, a 5-year-old full sister to M One Rifle debuts for Headley in race 1 Saturday. Myra G., by One Man Army, has a series of bullet works (like most Headley trainees) and faces a modest field.
* South American dirt might be in Santa Anita's future. Main-track material from Palermo racetrack in Argentina recently was shipped to Santa Anita for study, and California representatives have quietly travelled to Palermo for on-site examination. There remains hope the beleaguered Pro-Ride surface will be replaced with Southern Hemisphere dirt.
w Ron Ellis must be in a slump. After winning 11 races from his final 26 starters at Santa Anita, Ellis is winless at Hollywood. Saturday is only the Day 3 . . . but still.
w Ellis can win race 8 Saturday with Ron Bob and Dave. Meanwhile, Ellis has high hopes for 3-year-old maiden winners Golden Itiz and Vision in Gold. Golden Itiz, a Tiznow colt, won a sprint March 20.
"I'm excited to go two turns with him," Ellis said. Vision in Gold, a Medaglia d'Oro filly, will run in an allowance, then the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks June 6. "I think she's that good," Ellis said. Stay tuned.
* Doggone it. Anyone who bet "all-others" at 7.60-1 in the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager ended up taking all the worst of it. It appears "all others" will be represented in the Oaks by only three outsiders - Ailalea, Bella Diamante, and It's Tea Time.
* Doggone, take two. In addition to the "all-others" Kentucky Derby plays, I bet four individual horses in Las Vegas and Churchill Downs pools. Unfortunately, it appears none of the four will make the race. Positive Split (100-1) and Who's Up (225-1) are out. Make Music for Me (105-1) and Setsuko (150-1) are on the outside looking in.
* Zenyatta looked magnificent last weekend when she returned to training at Hollywood, and it will be fun to monitor her progress the second half of the season. Zenyatta might stay home for her next start in the Vanity Handicap on June 13, and you have to wonder - will the Vanity be her final race in California? No Breeders' Cup out West this year.
* The count is up to at least 11 California shippers who won graded stakes in other states or countries this season. In alphabetical order: American Lion, Blind Luck, Conveyance, Evening Jewel, Freedom Star, Kays and Jays, Kinsale King, Line of David, Lookin At Lucky, Zardana, and Zenyatta. Leave out anyone?
* Loup Breton could have been a star on the California turf. But he wasted the Santa Anita meet with an 11th-place Big Cap finish on the main track and may try another ill-advised race - the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs. A mile and an eighth is too short, and Loup Breton is not that good, but his price will be right.
* How is this for a schedule conflict? The Grade 2, $150,000 San Francisco Mile Saturday at Golden Gate Fields competes for the same pool of horses (turf milers) as the Grade 3, $100,000 Inglewood Handicap at 1 1/16 miles Sunday at Hollywood. Really great planning.
* As for the San Francisco Mile, anyone who chased Gallant Son this winter at Santa Anita, only to be tortured by runner-up finishes at 16-1 and 9-1, are obligated to try again when he starts Saturday as a longshot against Bold Chieftain and Monterey Jazz.
* I reserve the right to change my mind, but one week out I am leaning toward a safe and predictable Kentucky Derby selection: Lookin At Lucky. Deadline for the Derby-day mega-edition of Daily Racing Form is Wednesday, so I still have more than 96 hours to waffle.