06/20/2008 11:00PM

Polonius to try turf route


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Aside from a ninth-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby in April, Polonius has shown steady improvement through his five-race career.

He has won two one-mile turf stakes - the Pasadena Stakes at Santa Anita in March, and the Grade 3 Will Rogers Stakes at Hollywood Park last month. His next task is to win a graded stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf in Saturday's $150,000 Cinema Handicap at Hollywood Park.

The Grade 3 Cinema will be Polonius's first turf start at 1 1/8 miles, which trainer Michael Pender thinks is within the colt's reach.

"We purposefully had this in mind all the way," he said. "It's been a gradual process. The distance doesn't frighten me."

Owned by B.J. Wright, Polonius shares top weight of 119 pounds with Tiz West in the Cinema, which drew only five entrants. Polonius drew the rail, and is expected to take his customary position near the front under jockey Jon Court. Polonius led throughout the Pasadena and Will Rogers. He was fully extended in the Will Rogers, winning by a half-length over Indian Sun.

Pender said that Polonius has an "unbelievable mouth" and is an easy horse for Court to rate. "He's got different gears," Pender said. "He's not going to get away from you. You can give him a long rein and he'll do whatever you want."

Polonius must reserve some energy to extend his speed going nine furlongs. He could face early pressure from Liberian Freighter, who is making his stakes debut.

Trained by Neil Drysdale, Liberian Freighter enters the Cinema on a two-race winning streak - an allowance race for statebreds on April 25 and an allowance race against open company on May 18.

The other three runners - Ez Dreamer, Robscarvic, and Tiz West - could benefit from a speed duel.

Tiz West, winner of the La Puente Stakes at a mile on turf at Santa Anita in April, is likely to stalk the pace. Trained by Richard Mandella, Tiz West was fourth in the Will Rogers Stakes after jumping shadows on the final turn. He was beaten two lengths by Polonius.

"It took a lot out of him," Mandella said. "I put a shadow roll on him."

Ez Dreamer was second in the Pasadena and third in the Will Rogers. Trained by Dan McFarlane, Ez Dreamer won two minor stakes at Turf Paradise earlier this year. Robscarvic is seeking his first stakes win.