04/22/2009 11:00PM

'Lesser' races bolster card

Email

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Hollywood Park is offering a $500,000 guaranteed pick six pool on Saturday's California Gold Rush program for statebreds. To sort through the pick six, bettors must decipher four stakes worth $150,000 to $250,000 as well as lucrative races for allowance-class horses and maidens.

Gold Rush Day offers two sorts of races: six stakes worth $150,000 or more, and four other races for up-and-coming horses - two $60,000 maiden races and two $70,000 allowance races. The lesser races annually are among the largest fields of the day, and this year is no exception.

The pick six covers the fifth through 10th races. The first and last legs of the pick six have drawn the largest fields of the day.

The fifth race, the $70,000 Warren's Thoroughbred Stakes, is a first-condition allowance race for fillies and mares over seven furlongs with 12 entrants. Ale's Pride and Magic Launch, the winners of maiden races at Santa Anita in late March, face winners for the first time.

They must beat North Rodeo, a 4-year-old filly trained by Bob Baffert who was fourth, beaten a neck, in an optional claimer over a mile at Santa Anita on March 5. North Rodeo was second in the Fleet Treat Stakes and third in the California Cup Distaff last year.

The final leg of the pick six is the $60,000 NTRA Stakes for maiden colts and geldings over 6 1/2 furlongs, with 14 entrants.

Star Redeemer, who lost two maiden races by a head here last December, makes his first start since finishing 10th in the California Breeders' Champion Stakes at Santa Anita last December.

"He bled a little in the California Breeders Stakes," trainer John Sadler said.

Owned by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, Star Redeemer was given a break during the winter before resuming training.

"I think he'll be tough," Sadler said. "I think he wants to run farther than six furlongs."

Earlier in the program, Buck's Bro will be favored in the Grey Memo Stakes, a first-condition allowance race over seven furlongs. Trained by Gary Sherlock for Tom Grether, Buck's Bro was third in an allowance race for statebreds over six furlongs at Santa Anita on April 2 and has worked quickly in recent weeks.

"It's a good distance,"Sherlock said.

Backbackbackgone gets job done

Between breathing problems and an erratic way of running, Backbackbackgone is testing trainer Peter Miller's patience. With results such as his win in Wednesday's $73,450 Harry Henson Stakes, Miller can live with those issues.

"He never switches leads," Miller said. "If I had hair, I'd pull it out."

Owned by the partnership of Gerson Racing, Charleville Stable, and John Rogitz, Backbackbackgone ($6.40) led throughout the Henson, running six furlongs on turf in 1:08.16. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Backbackbackgone fought with Wall Street Wonder for the first half-mile and pulled away. Position A closed from fourth to finish second, a neck in front of Wall Street Wonder.

The Henson was Backbackbackgone's first start since a last-place finish in the Sunshine Millions Dash at Gulfstream Park in late January.

"He had some breathing issues and we had to fix his throat," Miller said. "We had to regroup."

Backbackbackgone has won 5 of 7 starts and $203,270. A colt by Put It Back, Backbackbackgone has won four minor stakes in his career. Miller called it a "very good possibility" that Backbackbackgone will make his next start in the $150,000 Laz Barrera Stakes on May 24, a Grade 3 stakes for 3-year-olds over seven furlongs.

Opening-day business down

Wednesday's opening day of the spring-summer meeting drew poor business returns. The ontrack crowd of 4,043 was the lowest in track history. The all-sources handle of $4,846,732 marked an alarming drop of 35 percent from the handle of $7,542,880 on the opening day of the 2008 meeting.

Part of the drop can be attributed to an absence of betting through the TVG account wagering network. The racetrack and TVG had a one-day dispute centered on broadcast fees. A resolution was reached before Thursday's races.

Bettors who did have an opportunity to bet - either ontrack, at a simulcasting location, or through another account wagering provider - had little to choose from on Wednesday. The eight races had only 45 horses in eight races. There were four races with five-horse fields, three with six horses and one with seven.