04/23/2003 11:00PM

King Robyn thriving with blinkers off


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - King Robyn will continue life as a sprinter for the foreseeable future after winning his second consecutive stakes in Wednesday's $82,200 Harry Henson Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Returning a month after winning the San Pedro Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs on dirt at Santa Anita, King Robyn justified his role as a heavy favorite with a three-length win in the Henson.

Run over 5 1/2 furlongs on turf for 3-year-olds, the Henson Stakes was King Robyn's first victory on grass. Ridden by Alex Solis, King Robyn ($3.60) stalked pacesetter Slew's Prince on the turn, rallied wide to challenge for the lead in early stretch, and pulled clear.

Jimmy O, a 28-1 shot, encountered traffic on the final turn and early stretch and finished second, 1 1/2 lengths in front of 14-1 Slew's Prince. Beyond Infinity, a French import trained by Bobby Frankel, never threatened the leaders and finished seventh as the 9-2 second favorite.

Trainer Jeff Mullins said he will resist the temptation to try and stretch out King Robyn, who has won 6 of 12 starts and $205,870 for owners Cornejo Racing Inc.

"I'll let him tell me when he wants to go long," Mullins said. "I don't want to run him long and have him run off and cave in. We'll get an opportunity to go seven-eighths."

Mullins was hinting at a start in the $150,000 Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes for 3-year-olds on May 26, a race his stable won last year with Captain Squire.

King Robyn's two-race winning streak coincides with Mullins's decision to run the gelding without blinkers. King Robyn ran with blinkers when he raced at Calder last year for trainer Angel Salinas and won his California debut with blinkers in an optional claimer on Jan. 23.

But after King Robyn ran second to stablemate and Kentucky Derby hopeful Buddy Gil in the Baldwin Stakes on Feb. 23, Mullins was permitted by the local racing rules to remove the blinkers. If a horse wins in blinkers he must wear them again next out.

"I cut the blinkers down and he won," Mullins said of an optional claiming win in January. "The first opportunity I had when he got beat, I took them off."

Dispute results in opening-day handle drop

Hollywood Park had declines in business on Wednesday's opening day of the spring-summer meeting. The ontrack attendance of 7,654 was down 1.8 percent over last year.

Handle figures were off more substantially. The ontrack handle was $1,330,633, a drop of 6.7 percent. The overall handle of $7,035,100 was a decline of 10 percent, which track officials largely attributed to the absence of simulcast wagering from the mid-Atlantic tracks.

Hollywood Park's parent company, Churchill Downs Inc., is in the midst of a dispute with several mid-Atlantic tracks regarding the fees that tracks pay for the simulcasting signal and right to bet, according to Hollywood Park president Rick Baedeker.

Last year, tracks and simulcast locations in that region accounted for $540,111 in handle on opening day. In addition, track officials said, Youbet.com, which provides Internet betting, was not in service on Wednesday.

"The 10 percent would have been 2 percent if you include what we lost in the mid-Atlantic dispute," Baedeker said. "That's most of the difference."

Baedeker wasn't certain of the status of negotiations between Churchill Downs Inc. officials and the mid-Atlantic tracks.

Harris Farms loaded for Gold Rush

The last time the California-bred community got together for a day of races exclusively for statebreds, at the California Cup last November at Santa Anita, Harris Farms had an outstanding day, winning lucrative stakes with Super High and Unlimited Value.

For Saturday's California Gold Rush program at Hollywood Park, Harris Farms and partners have an equally strong hand, with runners in four of the 10 races.

"We've got our guns loaded," said John Harris, owner of Harris Farms.

Including horses owned with partners, Harris will start Brite Sunny Day in the $150,000 B. Thoughtful Stakes, and Blind Ambition in the $150,000 Fran's Valentine Stakes. In overnight races, Harris Farms and partners start Watermelon Wine in a $70,000 allowance race over seven furlongs and Rio Reyes in a $60,000 maiden race for colts and geldings over 6 1/2 furlongs.

Blind Ambition may be Harris's best chance. A 5-year-old mare, Blind Ambition won her lone start of the year in a first-condition allowance race over a mile on turf on March 29. The race was her first start for trainer Marty Jones after joining his stable earlier this year.

"She came back well," Harris said. "She had a wind operation last year."

Meanwhile, Super High and Unlimited Value both were injured after their wins last fall.

Unlimited Value underwent surgery for a pastern injury and was later euthanized when complications developed.

Super High has resumed training at Harris Farms. She will return to the track in a month, Harris said.

Harris is also optimistic that Hot Market, who was second in the Pat O'Brien Handicap last summer at Del Mar, will make it back to the races this summer. Last fall, he was considered a top contender in the California Cup Classic, but lost all chance when he reared at the start.

"He might make Del Mar," Harris said.

Pedroza, Bluesthestandard run at Lone Star

Jockey Martin Pedroza, who finished the Santa Anita meeting among the top 10 riders, will miss Saturday's program at Hollywood Park. He has been booked to ride Bluesthestandard in the Texas Mile at Lone Star Park.

Bluesthestandard, trained by Ted West, won his stakes debut in the Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita on March 29.