07/15/2009 11:00PM

Rendezvous gets shot in Oceanside


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Back in the winter, Rendezvous was just a cut below the best 3-year-olds in Northern California, finishing third to stablemate Chocolate Candy in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields in February.

While Chocolate Candy went on to the Kentucky Derby, Rendezvous was tried in lesser races on turf and dirt in the spring. A winner on turf at Calder last fall, before joining trainer Jerry Hollendorfer's stable, Rendezvous has run well enough on the surface to suggest he could be a factor in the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar on Wednesday's opening program.

"We want to give him a chance," Hollendorfer said. "He seems like he's going well right now."

The Oceanside is run at a mile on turf for 3-year-olds and is such a popular race that it is typically divided into divisions. The Oceanside will be Rendezvous's first start in California since the El Camino Real. He was fourth in the Grade 3 Derby Trial at Churchill Downs in April, third in an optional claimer on turf at Belmont Park in May, and fifth in the Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont Park on June 5.

The Hill Prince Stakes was run on a sloppy main track over which Rendezvous struggled. His chances were not helped when he broke slowly.

"It was an off track, and he didn't like that," Hollendorfer said. "Hopefully, we'll get a better run."

What Rendezvous has done this month at Hollywood Park has left Hollendorfer encouraged about the colt's chances Wednesday. Rendezvous worked six furlongs in 1:11.60 on July 5 and returned July 10 to work six furlongs in 1:12.60.

Joel Rosario, the leading rider at Hollywood Park, is booked to ride Rendezvous on Wednesday.

Short field for Sunset Handicap

Sunday's $150,000 Sunset Handicap has drawn only four runners - Black Astor, Obrigado, Porfido, and Spring House.

The Grade 2 Sunset Handicap is run over 1 1/2 miles on turf and is the feature on a nine-race program that marks the final day of the spring-summer meeting.

Spring House, who won the Grade 3 Golden Gate Fields Turf Stakes at 1 3/8 miles on turf on May 30 for his sixth career stakes win, is the 121-pound topweight. A 7-year-old gelding owned by former Hollywood Park chairman R.D. Hubbard and trained by Julio Canani, Spring House won the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo Handicap at Santa Anita in February.

Obrigado will carry 120 pounds. A 6-year-old gelding trained by Neil Drysdale, Obrigado won the Grade 3 Round Table Handicap at 1 3/4 miles on turf here June 13.

Black Astor has not started since finishing fifth in the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes in January. Porfido was second in the Round Table and is winless in his last eight starts.

With many stables already based at Del Mar, the Saturday and Sunday programs at Hollywood Park do not have large fields. There are 67 horses entered for nine races Saturday, with eight races drawing nine or fewer runners. The same statistics apply for Sunday - 67 runners in eight races and only one race with a double-digit field.

Tres Borrachos eyes trio of Grade 1's

Tres Borrachos's game second in the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 11 has led trainer Beau Greely to plan a three-race campaign of Grade 1 races for the 4-year-old through early November.

Greely said Thursday that Tres Borrachos will be pointed to the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Sept. 6, the Goodwood Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 10, and the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 7.

The $250,000 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 2 is unlikely because of its proximity to the Hollywood Gold Cup.

"The San Diego is three weeks back, and I think it's a little quick," Greely said. "I want to try to keep him fresh for the rest of the year and keep him happy."

Tres Borrachos was the expected front-runner in the Gold Cup and held his lead to early stretch when he was passed by eventual winner Rail Trip. Tres Borrachos was beaten three lengths.

Life Is Sweet, the 4-year-old filly who finished third in the Gold Cup, returned to training Thursday. Trainer John Shirreffs said he has no plans for Life Is Sweet at Del Mar and no urgency to make a decision.

"There is plenty of time," he said.

Zenyatta, the undefeated champion older female of 2008, will make a late arrival at Del Mar. Shirreffs said he plans to keep Zenyatta at Hollywood Park until next Friday, the final day of training at the track before it closes for the rest of the summer.

Zenyatta is expected to start in the $300,000 Clement Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 9. She has won twice this year - the Milady Handicap in May and the Vanity Handicap in June.