05/07/2004 11:00PM

Rhythm Mad wins Jim Murray Memorial


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Rhythm Mad was an unlucky second in the $250,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita on April 18. Saturday, with a bigger purse at stake in the $350,000 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park, good fortune was on his side.

Rallying from fourth in the final half-mile, Rhythm Mad ran down a stubborn Continental Red to win by a neck. Sent off as the favorite, Rhythm Mad ($5.40) ran 1 1-2 miles on turf in 2:26.73.

"This was a smaller field and it was easier to stay out of traffic," trainer Bruce Headley said.

Gassan Royal, a top contender trained by Bobby Frankel, did not have the same luck. Gassan Royal was stuck behind Continental Red and Rhythm Mad in deep stretch and finished third, beaten a half-length under jockey Javier Santiago.

"I had the best horse," Frankel said. "He was trying to weave through them with a horse that needs time to get going."

Rhythm Mad was fourth for much of the Murray Handicap, stalking Right Proof who led through early fractions of 24.34 and 49.39 seconds. Continental Red was always second to Right Proof until early stretch when he took the lead. Continental Red led briefly but could not hold off Rhythm Mad, who rallied three-wide on the final turn.

Despite the win, winning rider jockey Alex Solis said Rhythm Mad felt dull, and thought that the San Juan Capistrano over about 1 3-4 miles on turf may have taken a toll. "He wasn't 100 percent, he is capable of doing more," Solis said.

Rhythm Mad has won 5 of 10 starts and $355,205. He raced in France until last winter when he was acquired by Jess Jackson and Headley. Jackson is the proprietor of the Kendall-Jackson winery in Northern California. He began acquiring racehorses a year ago.

*Pohave and Marino Marini gave trainer Doug O'Neill a sweep of the exacta in the $150,000 Los Angeles Times Handicap.

Pohave ($10.60) finished six furlongs in 1:08.12, winning by a length. Summer Service, who set an early pace of 21 and 43.23 seconds, finished third in the field of nine. Hombre Rapido, the defending champion, finished sixth in his first start since the 2003 LA Times Handicap.

Pohave was ridden by Jon Court, who kept the 6-year-old gelding near the front throughout. Pohave was within a half-length of Summer Service with a quarter-mile remaining and pulled away in the final furlong.

Owned by a partnership, Pohave scored his first stakes win in the Grade 3 Los Angeles Times Handicap. Third in the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap at Santa Anita in March, Pohave has won 4 of 23 starts and $275,100. He was acquired by his current owners in a private sale last fall.

Marino Marini had every chance to catch Pohave but fell short. Jockey Tyler Baze said Marini Marini does not respond to urging with a whip.

"You can't hit the horse," Baze said. "He ducks in and out."

* Four years after Early Pioneer won the Hollywood Gold Cup, his trainer, Vladimir Cerin, may have another candidate for that lucrative race in Even the Score, who won Saturday's $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap.

Making his second start in California, Even the Score rallied from fourth to win the Grade 2 LeRoy by two lengths. Ridden by David Flores, Even the Score ($12) finished 1 1-16 miles in 1:40.81 on a track that played fast.

"I put him right behind the speed without pushing him," Flores said. "I think there is more improvement left in him. I would think that the Gold Cup would be the target. I hope we get a big one with him."

Even the Score caught pacesetter Ender's Shadow, who had set early fractions of 23.36 and 45.86 seconds. Ender's Shadow held second, finishing three lengths clear of Total Impact. Olmodavor, the 2-1 favorite, rallied from seventh in a field of eight to finish fourth.

Even the Score races for Ro Parra and has won 8 of 27 starts and $511,629.

"I told him I thought this is my Hollywood Gold Cup horse," Cerin said of a springtime conversation with Parra.

The $750,000 Gold Cup is run over 1 1-4 miles on July 10.